In Germany, everybody knows that asparagus is "the king of vegetables", especially the white variety. When the season starts, there is an asparagus craze, spilling over to unexpected areas like fashion advertising. It costs more than the other vegetables at the supermarket - you seldom see it for less than 6 euro per kilogram - and yet people buy so much of it that late shoppers often only see the empty box under the price label. My coworkers grumble about "not enough variety" when the canteen has pork steaks two days in a row, but when there's asparagus, they can eat it everyday for a week. One of them doesn't ever touch vegetables unless they've spent time in a can, and is unhappy when he discovers that the canteen has smuggled fruit pieces in the dessert, but he happily eats the asparagus as a main dish.
A typical example of its celebration by the press: I opened chefkoch.de, a large source for user published recipes which also has editorial articles. Of course, there was a recent article about asparagus (happens every April in most culinary publications). It had the noble goal of reminding Germans that there is green asparagus too, not only white, and that the green one can be eaten in other ways beside boiled and combined with hollandaise (that's literally what it says). It starts with the words:
The spring is here and brough the universally loved asparagus time! Asparagus is the most liked of all vegetables and is rightfully called "royal vegetable".
And that's how about every asparagus article I've come across reads.
Don't get me wrong, I like asparagus. The flavor is almost too delicate to eat it as a main dish, but it has some interesting uses. But I've always wondered why it is supposed to be so much better than any other vegetable. Historically, it could make sense that it tastes better than the potatoes, turnips and cabbage which thrive in the German climate. But my generation has been raised on imported tomatoes, bell peppers and champignons. And given that it is much more sensitive to improper cooking techniques - and let's be honest, many housewives/husbands tend to overcook everything - the vast majority of people is probably eating asparagus which tastes far from the optimal. Add to that the "hollandaise" from the tetra pak, and it is really nothing special. Oh yes, nobody is ever thinking that you could have any variation with asparagus. It automatically means hollandaise (or an imitation of it). Often, there is some ham with that, too.
I was wondering if this cult of the asparagus is common to other cuisines, or a typical German phenomenon. Also, are there any proven reasons for its enormous popularity? (It would be nice if you could support them with evidence).