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Asparagus is a vegetable, specifically the young shoots of Asparagus officinalis, a member of the lily family Asparagaceae[?]. It has been used from very early times as a culinary vegetable, owing to its delicate flavour and diuretic properties.

In its simplest form, the shoots are boiled or steamed until tender and served with a light sauce or melted butter. Small or full-sized stalks can be made into asparagus soup. Cantonese restaurants in the United States often serve asparagus stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, or beef.

One problem with asparagus is that a constituent of the plant is metabolised and excreted in the urine, giving it a distictive, mildly unpleasant odour. The smell was once thought to be methyl mercaptan (methyl sulfide, CH3SH), but it now appears to be some other compound. Everyone excretes the compound, but some (perhaps fortunate) people are genetically incapable of smelling it. The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, the asparagus plant being rich in this compound.

The shoots of a related plant, Ornithogalum pyrenaicum, called Prussian asparagus, have been used for similar purposes as genuine asparagus.

Asparagus is widely grown aroung villages near Evesham in the Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire, England, and the plant grows wild on England's south coast.

External links

Asparagus information (http://www.asparagus.org) from the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board

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