Market Place: Evesham

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Pity the poor English asparagus growers. Not only must they put up with inferior imports flooding supermarkets, but this year they have had to contend with miserable weather in a season that lasts only six weeks. Consequently, there was little local asparagus at Evesham's markets the other week, even though the area has for centuries been famed for crisp, juicy 'sparrow-grass'.

The most enticing of the town's two retail markets is on the High Street. In the food hall a butcher was folornly trying to sell a score of drumsticks, while also harbouring hopes for a bowlful of chicken hearts. But the solitary greengrocer only had a couple of bundles of asparagus, in what should have been mid-season.

It was the same story outside, where the largest collection of stalls cower under a corrugated shelter. No problem here if you want second-hand jewellery or furniture, a fishing rod, or a phalanx of garden gnomes. But not asparagus. And there was no joy either from the small Saturday market in the market square. The recent warm spell improved matters, but to get fresh Evesham asparagus, you may have to buy in bulk from the local wholesale auction. Otherwise, head for Ron Collis's stall outside Evesham on the A44 to Oxford. Behind it grows the crop. Get up early (the day's ration often sells out), pray for warm weather, and go by mid-June.

Evesham Central Market, 9am-5pm Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat, 81 High Street; Smithfield Wholesale Market, from 10am Mon-Fri, High Street, Evesham, Hereford & Worcester