My wife and I nearly leaped for joy last week when we saw the first spears of asparagus thrusting up from the ground.
Asparagus is, for me at least, a sure sign that spring really is upon us. Well, that and the noisy birds around the feeders who pair up making little double helixes as they rise and fall in the air.
Spring is the time for love, after all, and one could make a good case that there is not much stronger evidence of love than birth and new growth — and asparagus in the spring, of course.
A news story I was reading was my motivation to suggest to Becky that we walk out and check the asparagus box. Apparently asparagus has an excitable effect on people even as far away as the Netherlands. Turns out Ronald Peijenburg, owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant De Zwann in the town of Etten-Leur, is so fond of asparagus that he orchestrates wacky publicity stunts each year to mark the beginning of the asparagus season.
One year he delivered the first crop of asparagus to his restaurant in a Formula One car, another year in a hot-air balloon.
This year he decided to fly in the initial batch of the glorious vegetable in an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or as we nontechnical people know it, a drone.
The delivery started off well enough. A truck carrying the pilot along with a TV camera from the local station followed behind the drone carrying a small metal can containing a few spears as it made its way to the restaurant.
It is not clear how far they had to go, but from what I have been able to learn, a typical small, commercial quadcopter can fly for about 15 minutes before the battery needs to be charged.
At any rate, the pilot landed the craft without incident, charged the battery, and took off again. It was on the second takeoff that the problems began.
The vehicle rose in the air then spiraled down onto the road crashing, causing both the drone and the asparagus to burst into flames.
Now, I’ve collected and tried several asparagus recipes through the years, but asparagus flambé a la drone is a new one on me.
Restaurateur Peijenburg was disappointed, of course. When it comes to asparagus, however, a true aficionado will see one little drone crash as a mere bump in the road. (Actually, “smoldering pile in the road” might be a better metaphor.)
This unfortunate incident did not stop him from arranging another shipment, this time delivered by more traditional means.
According to some other recent stories, restaurants and drones are getting together like asparagus and hollan-daise sauce. Timbre, a live music bar and restaurant chain in Singapore, is experimenting with using drones to deliver food and drinks from the kitchen directly to the customers’ tables.
Managing director Edward Chia told the International Business Times the drones would free up the human servers to better interact with the customers.
Still, when you consider the epic fail with the asparagus drone in the Netherlands, drones working in restaurants are not without risks.
One eating establishment in New York City arranged for drones to hover over customers’ heads carrying sprigs of mistletoe and a “kiss cam.”
Unfortunately, something went awry, and the drone fell from the sky, hitting a photojournalist in the head.
My guess is Georgine Benvenuto was perhaps a bit chagrined as she explained how she has survived unscathed covering various dangerous situations and terrorist acts, and yet she was injured by a drone with a kiss cam.
Well, for the next few weeks I’ll be safe. I won’t be going to restaurants because I’ll be trying out some recipes with our homegrown asparagus. It does make me wonder, though, how asparagus with drone would taste.