Instructions for Cooking Asparagus

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September 14, 2012 by The Citron Review

by Ashley Seitz Kramer


Your lover has requested palm hearts, which is the loveliest vegetable you’ve ever imagined (a heart offering its palm, a palm beating its heart, a palm using another palm to cover its heart, the heart showing through), but in order to properly cook asparagus, you must first choose it from a waist-high field of leafage and greenery, some with very tempting names, such as kale and ladyfingers and shallot and of course palm hearts. This early in the process, it is crucial that you first choose asparagus, much as you would choose love, and then that you choose the specific bundle of stalks that suit you and your tastes, much as you would choose a specific lover from another field of candidates, each one unaware of your scrupulous eye but also unexplainably nervous. Where is the bow tie I saved for such a day? It is also true, however, that the asparagus is choosing you and so you are really only doing fifty percent of the choosing. There are reasons to choose a slender stalk, and there are many people who do; likewise, there are reasons to choose a thicker stalk, and many people who do. It is possible to choose poorly early on, after you’ve already chosen the shoes you will wear to temporarily leave your lover, requester of palm hearts, after you’ve chosen the store, and the route you will take there, and after you’ve chosen your cart from yet another field of carts (empty and open and waiting to be chosen)—it is possible to choose what you might realize later is the wrong asparagus and still enjoy it entirely since really the choosing has less to do with choosing correctly, as you’ll learn and relearn every time you eat, and more to do with the expectation you’re secretly choosing, and even more secretly, only half-choosing.


Ashley Seitz Kramer, winner of the Ruth Stone Prize and the Schiff Prize, taught college writing for almost a decade and is now an Assistant Dean at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Parcel, Anti-, Quarterly West, Cimarron Review, Southeast Review, Cincinnati Review, and Hunger Mountain, among others. She was recently named a finalist for the 42 Miles Press Book Award.

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