In England, the crocus is one of the signs of spring. In Germany, it's white asparagus.
Once grown exclusively for the royal court, from April to June it's now one of the country's most popular vegetables - about 70,000 tons are consumed every year. Last June on the way from Nuremburg airport, we saw fields of green shoots stretching as far as the eye could see.
Germans buy it fresh from farmers at their market stalls or by the roadside, and visit the festivals along the "asparagus routes" in Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony. (The town of Nienburg elects its own Asparagus Queen.)
In Bamberg one enterprising gelateria was even offering asparagus ice cream. Verdict? A refreshing change from strawberry or chocolate, but not perhaps one I'd want every day.