Did You Know?
Asparagus has been used as a vegetable owing to its distinct flavor, and in medicine due to its diuretic properties and its purported function as an aphrodisiac. It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 BC! Greeks and Romans ate it fresh, and dried the vegetable for use in winter. Roman Epicureans froze its sprouts high in the Alps for the Feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus created the "Asparagus Fleet" for hauling the vegetable, and coined the expression "faster than cooking asparagus" for quick action.
Reaping the benefits for over two millennia
A recipe for cooking asparagus is given in one of the oldest surviving collections of recipes (Apicius's third-century BC De re coquinaria, Book III"). In the second century BC, the Greek physician Galen, highly respected within Roman society, mentioned asparagus as a beneficial herb, but as dominance of the Roman empire waned, asparagus' medicinal value drew little attention until al-Nafzawi's The Perfumed Garden. That piece of writing celebrates its purported aphrodisiacal power that the Indian Ananga Ranga attributes to "special phosphorus elements" that also counteract fatigue. wikipedia.org