ipsedixit adores asparagus in all its permutations—but can't detect any noticeable difference in taste between the different colors of asparagus (green, purple, and white). "I've tried them raw, lightly steamed, stir-fried, cooked to fork tender, and it really doesn't seem to matter," says ipsedixit. "They all taste the same." LauraGrace agrees: "It boggled my mind to watch folks in Germany pay 17 or 18 Euro for a plate of steamed fat white asparagus in beurre blanc, and slice it with such care and absolutely roll their eyes back in their heads with pleasure as they ate it!"
The colored varieties do taste different from each other, says Pata_Negra. "Green and purple have a pronounced bitterness (high chlorophyll content). White is mild and most exquisite." But here's where the confusion comes in: The white asparagus you're likely to find in the United States is NOT the divine spargel folks pay 18 euro a plate for over on the Continent. "German white asparagus is also known as white gold," says linguafood. "The flavor is unique, and you won't get anything even close to that outside Germany. I made the mistake of buying white asparagus in the U.S. once. Blah. Basically flavorless." "The American varieties aren't even from the same planet," agrees dmd_kc.
Chalk it up to terroir—and stick with the flavorful green or purple varieties in the States. "Green is one of my favorite vegetables, but I truly detest U.S. domestic white," says dmd_kc. "It has a funky, acrid flavor, which I think is complemented by the chlorophyll in green."