Daffodils, lambs - and stinky pee.

Spring has sprung and so has the vegetable Marcel Proust once credited with "transforming my humble chamberpot into a bower of aromatic perfume".

One man's noseworthy is another's non-event. Scientists conclude that when it comes to asparagus pee "individual differences exist in both odorant production and odour perception".

Either way, local growers have their fingers crossed for a heavy tonnage in 2017. Marcus Turner, from the Asparagus Council of New Zealand, says the season got under way a couple of weeks early this year, which bodes well for good crops.


Top tips for buying the slender stems of NZ-made deliciousness that haven't been in store since December: Look for firm stalks with trimmed ends and minimal white butt. Also, when you gently rub the spears together they should "squeak" - old asparagus is rubbery and quiet.

If you're not using it straight away (seriously?) keep asparagus in the fridge, either upright in a jar with 1-2cm of water, or with the butt ends wrapped in damp paper towels or, simply, washed and packed in plastic bags.

When you're ready to remind yourself why eating seasonally is so sublime, snap off the tough ends, cook according to preference - and hold your nose in the bathroom.