I thought I would do this saying in honor of the asparagus we will be eating for dinner tonight! As anyone knows who has watched the genius mini-series I, Claudius, this saying about asparagus was a favorite of the Emperor Augustus. That's what the historian Suetonius tells us, at least.
The word "asparagus" is a Latin word which the Romans borrowed from the Greeks. We have taken over this Latin word directly into English, as you can guess from the -us ending. In Latin, however, you find the word used in the plural (as in this proverb), whereas in English we treat asparagus as a collective noun, without a plural form. I took a look in the Oxford English Dictionary, which informs me that the more common spelling in the 17th and 18th centuries was "sparrow grass," and it was only in the 19th century that literary usage revived the Latin spelling, "asparagus," so that the use of "sparrow grass" gradually became less and less common.
As sayings go, this is definitely a good one: asparagus cooks very quickly indeed! So if you are able to get something done faster than asparagus gets cooked, that means you've got just a couple of minutes to get the job done!
If you have never eaten fresh asparagus, you have missed out on one of the world's great vegetables. Here's a webpage with cooking tips for asparagus - there are many ways to cook asparagus and, of course, all of them are speedy!
Here is today's proverb read out loud: pretend you are the Emperor Augustus himself as you say it!
3036. Celerius quam asparagi coquuntur.
The number here is the number for this proverb in
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