Altamiras’s recipe for asparagus spears dressed with “fresh olive oil, cloves, cinnamon and a little saffron” was intended for foraged wild green asparagus. Still-life paintings of that period might show fat white asparagus spears in selections of luscious produce, but Ignacio Jordán de Asso, an eminent economist, was clear in his 1798 economic history of Aragon that “one notices the absence of cultivated asparagus, of which we have none, although our soil is well adapted to growing.” Talking to market-gardeners, he discovered why: given the rents they paid they couldn’t afford the long three or four year wait for the first crop. Today Altamiras’s recipe works beautifully made with home-grown or imported green asparagus. Steam, roast or fry it, but always leave it firm. I fry spears in olive oil, adding the spices, then marínating them in a cool place for a few days before serving them at room temperature. The flavour and aroma emerge curiously smoky and woody. Altamiras also recommended adding eggs, but we don’t know if he poached or hard-boiled them or, perhaps, scrambled them in a revuelto. Sever de Olot, a later friary cook, took up the idea this way, noting it in a 1787 manuscript: “Lay stalks flat in an earthenware dish and add salt, olive oil, cloves, cinnamon, hard boiled eggs and chopped hazelnuts on top.” I prefer soft-yolked poached eggs, adding them to each plateful of asparagus just before serving.