Q: With the springtime weather recently, a bunch of shacks have sprung up on roadsides all over Germany, announcing the sale of spargel. What’s up with that?

A: Yes, it is the season for spargel, that white asparagus so popular among Germans that some restaurants develop special menus featuring all manner of spargel recipes. Cooked simply in boiling water, and subject to a variety of sauces and seasonings, spargel can be part of a savory meal.

Spargel is white because it is grown without the benefit of photosynthesis. Unlike the green asparagus that most Americans are familiar with, spargel is dug out of the ground before it can emerge into the light and turn green.

But beware — this tasty treat is available for a limited time only. Like some other treats and traditions in Germany, such as strawberries, new wine, and gluhwein, spargel season — or spargelzeit — is defined by specific dates. While the opening of the season tends to be a bit more flexible — usually in mid-April, depending on the weather — spargel season always ends on June 24. That date, known as Johannestag, is named for St. John the Baptist.

So next time you see a spargel shack, stop and pick up a bunch. And, before you cook it, experts warn: Don’t forget to peel it!

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