26th March 2013 You would be forgiven for thinking that the porcini season has come early when you see the locals sniffing around the countryside. But no, this time of the year it is the elusive but tender wild asparagus that gets people out of the house.
We overlook a little green wooded area on the other side of the road, and every few days I see people, with the excuse of just being out for a leisurely passeggiata, carefully surveying the area just by the bend and jumping across the little ditch and leaning into the woods. Blink and you'd miss it, but when they come back out again, looking completely innocent, mind you, they carry another couple of prized wild asparagus stems in their hand.
The other day I saw a father with his two children teaching them how to look for these plants. I love this passing on of great traditions. And I love how the Italians place such great value on fruits and vegetables when they are in season. There is nothing like eating fresh Italian strawberries in May, but later on in the summer you quickly move on to locally grown figs, apricots, peaches, melons... all in their own time, in their own season when they are bursting with flavour. Now then, on with the boots and off to hunt some wild asparagus - judging by its popularity, it certainly looks like it's worth it!
Read more from Camilla on her own blog