This post is so important that it's skipping the queue and pushing in at the front.
It contains the following mind-blowing revelation: Asparagus is delicious.
I'm not talking about the chewy muck that comes in cans, or even the finger-thick monstrosities that you can buy at the supermarket when it's in season, which requires more energy to chew and digest than you'll ever get out of it in the process (yes, that's a completely unscientific exaggeration which I won't even try to back up - it's just an ingrained prejudice). The good stuff - which you can currently find at farmers' markets for anywhere from $1.50 to $2.00 a bunch - is the crisp new baby tips. These are so sweet and crunchy they deserve to be gobbled up by anyone who has the good sense to lay their hands on them.
As to how to cook them, it couldn't be easier. The truth is that you pretty much only want to get them warm. Any more than that and they'll just go soggy and chewy like their bigger brothers and sisters.
Most nights we cook up a little steamer of carrots and broccoli. I steam the carrot for 10 minutes, adding the broccoli after 5 minutes. For the asparagus, just break off the bottom 1/4 of the stalks and pop them in the steamer when you take it off the heat, and let the steamer sit while you dish your plates. After that 2-3 minutes, the asparagus will be warm and moist and still crunchy and sweet. I drizzle a teeny bit of extra virgin olive oil on them too, and eat it all up straight away before it gets cold.
I can't believe I just did a plug for asparagus. Is that a sign of some degenerative disease? Seriously, this is lovely stuff, just coming into season, cheap and plentiful at the markets right now, and you would be doing yourself a big favour by getting it into you (without even starting on all the good stuff that must be in it - it's green all over, for goodness' sake!).