As we head into summer (ish!) the fullest crop of English fruit and vegetables come to market and with them our cooking becomes easier, simpler and lighter.
Sadly a favourite of mine, asparagus, is nearing the end of its season, but the sweetest slender British stems are still available, no thicker than a little finger.
One of my favourite ways of enjoying them before they disappear is with Spanish ham, the stalks quickly blanched and the ham crisped in a pan – a scattering of olive oil and a turn or two of the pepper mill are all you need.
Another tried and tested lunchtime special is to griddle them for a couple of minutes until they char in places; I cut a good piece of sourdough, drizzle it with olive oil and griddle this, too. Lastly I fry a duck egg until the white is just set, the edge bubbling and crisp and the yolk is like silken amber. A simple, perfect, beautiful plate.
I am rather fond of their nickname too, sparrow grass – a corruption of the word asparagus.