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LEARNING GERMAN

German word of the day: Spargelzeit

The start of April signifies that this treasured time in Germany is only weeks away.

German word of the day: Spargelzeit
Fresh white asparagus or Spargel. Photo: DPA

Whenever you enter a German supermarket or farmer’s market in spring, you’ll see signs along these lines everywhere: FRISCHER NÜRNBERGER SPARGEL! (fresh Nuremberg asparagus!) It might seem a bit aggressive – and to be fair, sellers urging you to buy Spargel can seem over-the-top, too. But that’s how spring works, vegetable-wise.

You might look at your screen now and wonder what I am talking about, so let me translate: Spargelzeit simply means asparagus season. Why is that worth a word of the day, you ask? That’s simple: Germans are obsessed with asparagus. People have been eating cabbage and potatoes all winter and asparagus means that spring is here. Hence, when the season starts each year, you are guaranteed to find asparagus everywhere.

Some statistics to prove my case: When you google “Spargelzeit 2019”, you immediately find 292,000 results. A lot of them are about asparagus recipes or where you can buy it cheaply.

According to the Information Centre for Agriculture, the total consumption of asparagus in 2015 was about 123,000 tons of the vegetable. That means a consumption of 1.5 kilograms per capita.

SEE ALSO: German asparagus 40 percent more expensive than a year ago

You'll often find Spargel at farmers' markets. Photo: DPA

Beauty pageants for Spargel

When asparagus season begins, Germany loses its mind: There are even beauty competitions to find the next asparagus queen of the region, and you can basically find asparagus at every turn: In restaurants, salad bars even smoothies or sushi.

Most traditional German restaurants will sell white asparagus during the season. It is traditionally cooked, then drenched in either butter or Hollandaise sauce, and served with boiled potatoes and some slices of ham.

While white asparagus is still the most popular one in Germany, the green type is actually growing in popularity: In 2012, the consumption of green asparagus was about six percent of the total consumption. In 2017, there was an increase to about 11 percent, according to the Agrarmarkt Informationsgesellschaft (AMI). The hype mainly centres on white asparagus though, according to German newspaper Die Zeit.

So the next time you visit a farmer’s market and somebody shouts “KAUF MEINEN SPARGEL” (“Buy my asparagus”) in your ear, don’t feel attacked. Just remember: It will be over by the end of June, so consider eating as much asparagus as you can.

Examples

Bald beginnt die Spargelzeit!

Asparagus season starts soon.

Wie isst du gerne deinen Spargel?

How do you like to eat asparagus?

Spargelzeit finde ich immer eher stressig.

I think asparagus season is usually rather stressful.

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Rücksicht

Here's how to take this thoughtful word into consideration.

German word of the day: Rücksicht

Why do I need to know Rücksicht?

Because it’s a commonly used word and knowing what it means – and practising it – will make you a better person.

What does Rücksicht mean?

Rücksicht is a feminine noun which means “consideration” or “regard”. It’s made up of the shortened form of the word zurück meaning “back” and Sicht – which means view. So literally, it means, back view, or looking back.

This literal meaning tells you something about how the word is used in German – if you look back to see what’s happened to your friend, you are taking them into consideration.

If you want to really make sure you don’t forget what Rücksicht means – you can watch the following video of Germany’s 1983 Eurovision song contest entry. The catchy ballad – called “Rücksicht” – came in place 5 of the competition that year. 

How to use Rücksicht

When using Rücksicht, bear in mind that it is usually paired with specific verbs and prepositions.

The most commonly used set phrase is Rücksicht auf etwas/jemand nehmen, which is used to mean “to be considerate of” or “to take care of” someone or something. For example:

Radfahrer müssen auf Fußgänger Rücksicht nehmen.

Cyclists must be considerate of pedestrians.

Er nimmt Rücksicht auf die Bedürfnisse seiner schwangeren Frau.

He takes care of his pregnant wife’s needs.

Rücksicht is usually followed by the preposition auf, but it can be preceded by a number of prepositions to compose different phrases. 

Mit Rücksicht auf for example, means “in view of” and ohne Rücksicht auf means “without consideration for”, while aus Rücksicht auf means “out of consideration for.” 

Here are some examples:

Führungen dürfen aus Rücksicht auf die Teilnehmer nicht aufgenommen werden.
Out of consideration of the participants, tours may not be recorded.
 
Er will tun, was er möchte, ohne Rücksicht auf die Anderen.
He wants to do what he wants, without considering other people.
 
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