RAMPS 101

A few weeks back, I posted that morel mushrooms and asparagus are totally in season and being used to create foodie masterpieces by local chefs – professional and self-proclaimed.  Unfortunately, I forgot another vegetable that has a more limited life span and  not as much exposure as its culinary counterparts.  I was reminded of this coveted seasonal treat when Jake the bald Butcher with the bad buzz on barbers displayed packages of said vegetable by the register.

Ramps are a wild onion that grow during the spring in Eastern Canada and the U.S. They’re sometimes referred to as wild leeks, and taste like a balanced mixture of garlic and onion.

Though ramps are a relatively recent food fad, they’ve been around and enjoyed for centuries. They were originally foraged by Cherokees, and have been a staple spring ingredient in Appalachian kitchens for decades. In Richwood, West Virginia, where they grow prolifically, a local festival has been dedicated to ramps since 1940.  Some folks find ramps absolutely delicious —

  • so delicious that civilized people have fought over the last few bunches at farmers’ markets.
  • So desired that they’ve monopolized the spring menus of top New York City chefs.
  • So coveted that they’ve inspired tattoos.
  • So scare the wild plant grows very slowly, taking up to four years to flower and reproduce.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/24/what-are-ramps_n_7128438.html

So, how did I become exposed to these culinary bad boys?

First let me comment on the above ‘so‘ statements before I continue.  And, yes, the format was ‘so‘ written that way in the referenced article.

  • I would so win any ‘conflict’ at a farmers’ market.  Bring it on, bitch!
  • I would never sport a ramp tattoo. So, there.
  • I don’t have the patience to wait four fucking years for a damn vegetable to mature.  So, fuck it.
  • I think the term bad boy is so stupid.  It’s kind of an inside joke, though.  Be that as it may, ramps really do rock.

I was eating lunch at a downtown restaurant and a ramp inspired dish was on special.  In my ignorance, I asked the obvious question- “what is a ramp?” The owner / chef was in ear shot, stopped in mid-chop and approached our table.  Not only did she answer my question thoroughly and completely, I ordered the special and left the establishment with a bunch of ramps fresh from her property in hand.  She didn’t even charge me for them. Later that same day, I ‘ramped’ up the flavor profile of my turkey rice soup. Tasty!

Note: Do NOT  discard the leafy green part – finely chop it and add garlic, olive oil etc.

Presto!

That should probably be – Pesto! but … .  Probably not.

Ramp Pesto

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