13 May, 2019

Get Ready 'Cause Here It Comes

Get Ready 'Cause  Here It Comes


Happy Spring. When did my semi-obsession begin? Oh, I remember now. Before attending Culinary School in 1992, I knew about boat ramps, handicap ramps and runway ramps. I've had and seen my share of rampages that caused running amok and going berserk. I knew that greedily spread gossip and some diseases run rampant and the ramparts cited in the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem, were gallantly streaming. I was totally ignorant of what was causing some of my fellow students from the Appalachian area to be so howling-at-the-moon giddy.

It was, of course, the upcoming ramp season. Ramps, so called mainly in the Appalachian Region, and wild leeks elsewhere, would soon be ready for harvesting. "What are they and what's grand about them?" I asked. The exuberance and euphoria from those "in the know" made me feel like a heathen who had inquired about their religion. Conversion time was nigh. No more questions were needed. Once the bits were champed, the horses ran rampant.

Being a liker of leeks, onions, shallots, and other allium species, my interest was peaked. Trying to listen with attention to six voices at once, I gleaned that the eagerly awaited ramps were available for a short time. Aside from being used in zillions of recipes from pickles to pizzas, they were foraged. Foraged! I knew what that meant but had never done it. I guess my tribe had been hunters, not gatherers. Finding good food still in the earth where it grew with the Blue Ridge Mountains as the grocery store sounded a pleasurable romp. Arrangements were made. My classmates and I met and motored to ramp land. We foraged.

Some people taught and some people learned. Hunting wild game requires stealth and silence. Ramps don't run no matter how much chatter is chatted. Warm sun, blue sky and interest-stimulating companions made my first foraging foray far-out fun.

Now is the time to plan your own Ramp Romp. If you've never foraged or eaten ramps ask around for guidance. Proper method in harvesting will help ensure a great crop next season. If you're a veteran "ramp tramp" please share your knowledge and company.

Ramps aren't the only delicacies to be foraged in these here parts. A beautiful Chanterelle Tart, shared with my selected sisters, Anne, Grace and Maggie and served with a fine white wine, made me a true believer. Hallelujah. Dr. Phil is right about two sides to everything so if you don't know without a doubt what it is DON'T EAT IT! Next, don't plan a first date for a day or two after enjoying ramps. Trust me on these.

Thanks to Joan Crothers for sharing her ramps with me. They froze beautifully.

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