The Baden Asparagus Route certainly lives up to its name, as seasoned connoisseurs are well aware, and it now has mecca status for the asparagus elite. Covering almost 136 kilometres, the route runs from the asparagus-producing town of Schwetzingen via Reilingen, Karlsruhe and Rastatt to Scherzheim.
Asparagus season is as eagerly awaited by food lovers as the new crop of sweet, juicy strawberries. The French Sun King, Louis XIV, loved asparagus back in the 17th century and when Karl I. Ludwig, the Elector Palatine, developed a taste for it around 1650, he ordered that the royal vegetable be cultivated in what are now the castle gardens of his summer residence, Schwetzingen Palace. The popularity of asparagus then spread to neighbouring princedoms. In the Middle Ages, asparagus was already a highly prized remedy for all minor ailments and more recently it has come to be recognised as a very healthy vegetable with purifying benefits for the body; one of the most pleasant ways to take care of your health. The town of Reilingen, with its educational asparagus trail, is well worth a visit, as is Bruchsal, host to Europe's largest asparagus festival. The white asparagus spears are harvested between the middle of April and 24 June, during which time visitors can watch the harvesters at work or even lend a hand. Once the harvest is in, there are asparagus festivals all along the Asparagus Route, with local landlords serving up a wide range of delicious asparagus dishes, fresh from the harvest. The many nicknames for asparagus – royal vegetable, spears of spring air, edible ivory – are a testament to the fascination that it continues to inspire amongst lovers of fine foods. And of course the local Baden wine also deserves a mention. With a bouquet ideally suited to asparagus, the two are a match made in heaven. Whether you come for the asparagus season or the wine harvest, the Baden Asparagus Route has plenty to offer throughout the year.