NICOSIA (Reuters) – U.N. peacekeepers have upset traditional wild asparagus harvesters on the ethnically divided island of Cyprus by preventing them from entering a buffer zone to gather the tasty shoots.
U.N. soldiers, restricting access to the buffer zone which splits the island from east to west after Cyprus was divided in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a Greek-inspired coup, say they are only doing their job, but residents are livid.
“This is unacceptable behavior and I have demanded that action is taken,” said Nicos Kotziambashis, leader of the Greek Cypriot village of Mammari which has been particularly hit by the U.N. ban. “The situation is explosive.”
“It is not something we particularly like to do but unfortunately if the asparagus is found in the buffer zone the peacekeepers have to do their job, which is to regulate access to that part of the territory,” a U.N. spokesman told Reuters.
Plentiful rains ensured a bumper crop of “aggrelia” this year exacerbating the standoff between soldiers and the army of locals who flock to pick asparagus, which tied in green and red burgundy bunches, sells for up to four euros at local markets.
Asparagus harvesting has never been for the faint-hearted with pickers crawling into dense thorn bushes to pick the delicate shoots from the undergrowth.
(Reporting by Michele Kambas)
It made me grateful that my argument is with grocers, not soldiers. It also made me think of this:
Roasted Asparagus With Prosciutto and Pine Nuts
This serves two hungry people or up to four dainty nibblers. Adjust accordingly (as with any recipe I give you!)
2 bunches of asparagus
3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic,finely chopped. (2 cloves if it’s that miserable, small garlic!)
sea salt and fresh black pepper
pasta of choice; I like small penne or macaroni
prosciutto, if available. If not, as close as you can get; I’ve cooked this with very thin strips of ham and, once, with thin-sliced bacon.
2 tbsps toasted pine nuts
Put the asparagus, cut into 5cms (2″ ) strips, garlic and oil in a shallow oven dish, stirring to coat the asparagus. Roast in hot oven about 10 minutes, or until asparagus is soft. In my oven, that’s about 200 deg.C. Probably 400F, but you know your own oven.
While this is roasting, cook the pasta as per packet instructions. When cooked, drain, add a little sea salt, generous grind of fresh black pepper and combine with the prosciutto, asparagus and toasted pine nuts. Top the whole delicious thing with grated Parmesan cheese. That’s cheese grated right now, as you need it. Not that ghastly stuff that sweats in a plastic bag, OK?
Accompanied, of course, by your beverage of choice. A dry white is hard to beat! 😉
web photo from bbc.
A short post. There are reasons for this, not least being my enforced upgrade of the housekeeping. Ants, presumably driven by rain to find a dry home, decided to colonise my linen closet. I did not see things their way. I think I may have won the battle…