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Asparagus for One

(post, Anne Zimmerman)

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I am not a person that thinks twice about spoiling myself. I don’t spoil to excess, but I firmly believe that after a long day one deserves a nice glass of wine. And after a long week, a Saturday morning spent at a fashionable café with a delicate pastry and beautiful cappuccino is definitely in order. 
But I tend to be a bit more parsimonious with my grocery buying habits. Each week I buy just enough of what I need – no more, no less. I hate throwing food away. Since I live alone I have only my stomach to rely on and if I make too much, I end the week by tossing slimy bags of produce, hard bread, and peaked leftovers into the garbage bin. I vigorously try to avoid this waste, both for economic and philosophical reasons. 

On a recent morning I stood among the swirling people at the farmer’s market and contemplated asparagus. I love asparagus. It is one of my favorite foods. I try to eat as much of it as possible while it is in season, knowing that I won’t have it the other nine to ten months of the year. I’d eaten a lot of asparagus this week, two large bunches to be exact, and I’d loved every green roasted spear. But both bouquets of asparagus came from the grocery store, flown in from another state and a tad mottled around the stems and edges. Now, here, fresh from the farm were rows and rows of perfect, tender asparagus. They were, my boyfriend would say, calling to me. 
I mentally ran through my week, thinking of the meals I would make, the evenings I had planned. Could I eat all this beautiful asparagus? It was a challenge, but I felt like I must buy the asparagus or I would regret it immensely. I fingered my five dollar bill and then handed it over to the merchant. He gave me my change and I grabbed a bunch of asparagus, put it down, than picked another. 
     “That’s the one you want?” He said, eyeing the paltry bunch. “It’s small.” 
     “I know,” I said reluctantly, looking at the others. 
     “They’re all priced the same,” he said, a large bunch in his hand. “Some are just bigger. Take that one.” He pointed to a large, very large bunch of delicate asparagus. My eyes widened a bit. 
     “But I live alone,” I said. “How much asparagus can a single girl really eat?” I was mentally dividing the bunch into meals and realizing I would be eating a lot of asparagus for the next few days. 
     The merchant smiled. “If you live alone then there is nobody telling you what to eat. You can eat all the asparagus you want.” 
     “Asparagus followed by a chocolate bar?” I said coyly. 
     “Ha!” He said as he reached out to take another person’s money. “Asparagus followed by a chocolate bar.” 
     And so it was.