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  • Writer's pictureAdam Horvath

Not Duck, Not Wabbit, It's RAMP SEASON!

Updated: Apr 22

It’s a statistically proven fact that every year from about the middle of April through mid-May vampire attacks decrease significantly throughout the Appalachian region and, interestingly enough, Williamsburg Brooklyn, East Nashville and RiNo neighborhood of Denver. I don’t think this is just a coincidence, as the period of time happens to coincide with the short-lived ramp season. I’m no botanist but I am pretty sure this has to do with the fact that this springtime onion is part of the allium family and allium is Latin for garlic. If you watched The Lost Boys and Fright Night as much as I did growing up, you'd know that Vampires hate garlic. Then again, it might just be that even bloodsuckers are turned off by dragon breath, an unfortunate consequence of munching on these deliciously robust wild onions.

April Showers bring…

Ramps, also known as wild leaks in the Great Lake Region, are wild onions with typically two or three bright green edible leaves, a purplish stem and a small white bulb that can take up to 7 years to fully mature. And they stink, I mean really smell but like in that

something stinks in a good way kinda way. When eaten raw, they have a pungent garlicky taste with a peppery undertone that will stick with you. They are a Bubba Gump Shrimp type versatile vegetable and can be substituted for virtually any recipe that has garlic or scallions. Charred, pestled ramps make any amazing earthy pesto and mashed potatoes with caramelized ramps will rival any garlic mashed you ever had. And I look forward to my homemade indulgence which I make each year, a sauteed ramp, double creme brie omelet with a dab of Dijon served on thick cut buttered rye toast; deliciously paired with a hot French Roast and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Where Can I Find Ramps?

Ramps are native to Eastern North America, growing in the moist shady canopies of the lower mountain forests from Georgia all the way to Quebec. While they’ve been a trendy vegetable since the 2000's, its popularity is relatively new considering that for hundreds of years Native Americans and early settlers foraged the woods of Appalachia each spring for them. The Cherokee Nation ate the vitamin enriched greens to fend off illness and the mountain folk regarded the ramp as a "woodland" tonic and blood purifier. It wasn't until the farm-to-table movement kicked off by Alice Waters and her restaurant Chez Panisse in the early Seventies that other chefs started to take notice. Then, thanks to the hipster subculture and green movement emergence of the latter half of the twentieth century, high end urban grocery stores and gourmet farmer's markets that embrace eco-consciousness began to import and celebrate ramp season.

Meanwhile, ramp festivals throughout West Virginia and Tennessee are drawing locals and out-of-state locavores further fueling its popularity. Churches and social organizations throw weekly dinners to stink in solidarity and for the next few weeks, roadside stands will continue to burst with bushels of freshly harvested ramps. Local chefs push the limits of ramp cuisine innovation with their chili, burgers and "ramp-eroni rolls" while also continuing to embrace the traditional ramps cooked in bacon grease with potatoes and scrambled eggs.

2024 Edit: I had this delicious ramp pancake a Good Night in Woodstock NY. This clever take on the scallion pancake had a delicious onion zest without being overpowered. I'm not sure I can go back to a traditional after this.

Nowadays, nationwide superstores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes have embraced the tradition as well, hopefully this year will be no different. There's no need to short sell your Altoids stock just yet, but supply chain issues may have an effect on this year's supply so be sure to ask your grocer in advance.

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3 comentarios

02 abr

please don’t tell my dad, he loves stinky food

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Adam Horvath
Adam Horvath
05 abr
Contestando a

These are super stinky :)

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01 may 2022

Next up, fiddlehead ferns!

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