After a conversation with a German friend about asparagus, I felt compelled to look up a couple of points discussed and learned this: Europeans prefer white asparagus, which has a tougher outside and really needs to be peeled. I've never tried the white variety, which some consider far superior to the green, and must soon do so. Well, it's no wonder to me Germans like white asparagus; it matches their monochromatic meat-and-potatoes diet.
The other issue I researched is nutritive value. I started peeling the spears many years ago when a neighbor who had lived in Germany told me she had learned to do so there. Ironically, my Hamburgian friend told me that by peeling I was removing the most nutritious part of the plant. Not true, apparently, because actually most of the nutrition resides in the tips -- one reason cooking asparagus vertically in a special asparagus steamer is preferable to my method: laying the spears on a steamer insert in a large pot with about an inch of water. Does this mean, I wonder, that the nutrition passes to the stems if you steam it with tips up? However, if tender, peeled spears are cooked in a vertical position, are they vulnerable to breaking in the pot?
It's obvious that in retirement I have too much time to ponder such weighty matters. But maybe someone will read this and answer some of these questions. I was thrilled yesterday to discover one comment on one of my posts, and delighted to learn I'd provided some useful information on books to her. I usually assume I'm talking to myself here.