Proust on asparagus: rainbows, Shakespeare’s fairies, and chamber pot perfumes

A little morning inspiration on that favorite springtime vegetable: asparagus.

“…but what most enraptured me were the asparagus, tinged with ultramarine and pink which shaded off from their heads, finely stippled in mauve and azure, through a series of imperceptible gradations to their white feet–still stained a little by the soil of their garden-bed–with an iridescence that was not of this world. I felt that these celestial hues indicated the presence of exquisite creatures who had been pleased to assume vegetable form and who, through the disguise of their firm, comestible flesh, allowed me to discern in this radiance of earliest dawn, these hinted rainbows, these blue evening shades, that precious quality which I should recognise again when, all night long after a dinner at which I had partaken of them, they played (lyrical and coarse in their jesting like one of Shakespeare’s fairies) at transforming my chamber pot into a vase of aromatic perfume.”

Photo of asparagus bundles

-Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way, vol. 1 of In Search of Lost Time, trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin (1913; New York: The Modern Library, 2003), 168-169.

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