Most asparagus dishes are easy to prepare (this is no artichoke or broad bean) and quick to cook (longer cooking makes it go grey and lose its body). The price you pay for this instant veg, though, is that it has to be super-fresh. As Jane Grigson observed: ‘Asparagus needs to be eaten the day it is picked. Even asparagus by first-class post has lost its finer flavour.’ Realistically, most of us don’t live by an asparagus field, so have to extend Grigson’s one-day rule. Even so, the principle is clear: for this delicate vegetable, the fresher the better.