One sole package of colored asparagus: green, white, and…purple! I have never seen purple asparagus. I have never seen this packaging in this store. I grabbed it up and had to restrain myself from bolting out the front door of the market, clutching the bag to my chest. It’s MINE!
Then I turned around and there was a bag of colored fingerling potatoes. Including purple ones. Obviously the universe was trying to send me a message.
I will concede that the asparagus is not grown locally. The green stalks are from Mexico, the white ones from Peru, and surprisingly, the purple ones are from the USA, and the package was put together in North Carolina. I'm not going to try to work out the economic logic of all that. BTW, you have to peel the white ones because the outer skin is kind of tough.
I am not going to take these pretty, pretty foods and make some elaborate dish where they lose whatever visual charm they have. I am going to let them stand alone so we can all enjoy the feast for the eyes, with a little protein on the side.
The potatoes are the waxy kind, so they take a while to cook. Start them first. I quartered mine so they’d cook a little more quickly, then tossed them with some olive oil and salt and baked them at the same time as the chicken.
Then prepare your asparagus (cut or break off the tough ends, and peel the white stalks, as noted) and steam or poach them lightly, testing regularly for doneness (don’t overcook!). Add butter or olive oil, and a dash of salt. Then plate them with your protein (those chicken breasts handy, baked with a simple panko crust.)
If it were closer to summer, you could as easily prepare both the asparagus and the potatoes ahead and serve as a cold salad with a light vinaigrette dressing.
I did see a lavender mushroom in Ireland, but they haven’t yet shown up in local stores, and might even be poisonous. Who knows? And I once grew purple pole beans.
The next Museum Mystery, Dead End Street, is coming out in June. It's about urban decay, and how remembering history can make a difference in the present. That's what Nell Pratt hopes.
I doubt some of these neighborhoods have a lot of fresh vegetables available, but there's always the Reading Terminal Market not far away. The market has survived for over a century not only through changes (both good and bad) in its neighborhood, but also through a major building project right over its head. It never closed. The people of Philadelphia really do like food! I visit every time I'm in the city.
Dead End Street is available for pre-order at Amazon (where it was on sale yesterday for $5.92!) and Barnes and Noble.