Thursday, March 26, 2009

Larry's Ramp-Hunting Trip


"Larry Loves Ramps."

This should be my husband's bumper sticker.

Every year about this time he starts talking about ramps and planning trips to go dig them. He probably dreams about ramp feeds.

What are ramps? You might be sorry you asked. To some people, they are a delicious, gourmet garlic/onion treat that adds a unique flavor to many dishes. To others, ramps are to be avoided at all costs--these people call ramps odoriferous, malodorous and downright offensive.


I've written about ramps before. If you'd like to see a photo or two, and find links to ramp festivals and more click here to read those older posts. I have no new photos to show you because...

Larry didn't find any. Not one. Nada. He went to his usual place along the Williams River, but came back empty-handed. Sort of. He got ramps, but he had to buy them. He did not plan to come home without, plain and simple. So when he saw a guy selling ramps on the side of the road, that was that.


I think he's plotting. I think he wants an excuse to go back to Williams River when the mollymoochers are ready. Maybe I just have a suspicious mind, or maybe after being married for 23 years I just know him well?



However, he did come out of the woods with some cool photos. And he has an excuse to go back.
If you want to read about one of West Virginia's largest (if not the largest) Ramp Festivals, you need to read the Richwooder's website. All over the state, churches, schools, fire departments and other civic groups will be hosting "ramp feeds" during the next six weeks. You can have your ramps steamed, fried, raw and just about any way you want them--I have even seen Ramp Wine for sale, and have some Ramp Dressing in my own fridge.

Do I like ramps? Yes I do--in moderation; chopped up and cooked into fried potatoes and served with scrambled eggs and a side of ham, they can't be beat. I am not as crazy about them as Larry, though, and that's a fact.

If a person eats raw ramps, they will smell like a garlic factory for several days if not weeks. I don't exaggerate here, as any of you who have tried them can testify.

So if Larry eats them raw, he's sleeping outside with the dogs. I love the man, but even the truest of love should not have to sleep with a smell like that.

17 comments:

Rowan said...

Lovely photos - we call them ramsons or wild garlic and they grow in our local woods. I've seen them growing by the side of the road in the Lake District too but I've never eaten them. Must say that I like the sound of them chopped up and cooked with fried potatoes - that sounds really good.

solsticedreamer~laoi gaul~williams said...

when we lived in dorset they covered the hedgerows up our lane and the surrounding miles! swampy hated them and it is the thing he is not missing...however a friend has given me some that i have put in a large pot and will transplant them in my allotment (under contained conditions!)

Granny Sue said...

You two makee me wonder how ramps got to these mountains--were they brought from the islands to America by someone--or the other way around? I never knew they grew in Britain. Are they as strong there as they are here? We have wild onions, of course, but the ramps are something else altogether, the wild onion times about 100 as far as smell and flavor.

Matthew Burns said...

If Larry is up for a day trip, I'll go with him to a place I know in Pendleton County where we can dig a truckload in a couple of hours.

Matthew

Matthew Burns said...

Ramps (Allium tricoccum) are native to eastern North America, ranging from the rich, moist woodlands of Nova Scotia and southern Quebec, south through New England and the central Appalachian states, down into the cool upland portions of Georgia, and as far west as Iowa and Minnesota.


The Appalachian name "ramp" comes from the British Isles, where a related plant, A.ursinum, grows wild. As one version has it, the English folk name "ramson" (son of Ram), referred to the plant's habit of appearing during the sign of Aries; March 20 to April 20; on the zodiac calendar. Another source indicates that the folk name was "ramsen," the plural form of an Old English word for wild garlic, "hramsa." The similarity between Allium ursinum and Allium tricoccum in taste, appearance, and growth habit led early English settlers of Appalachia to call the latter by the English folk name, which later was shortened to "ramp."

Matthew Burns said...

Sorry to be leaving so many comments, but I keep thinking about ramps. Remember back in the 70's when Jim Comstock got in trouble with the United States Postal Service for printing his newspaper, The West Virginia Hillbilly, with ramp scented ink?

Funny stuff. I remember when I was in grade school, all of the boys would eat raw ramps before going to school so the teachers would excuse them from the classrooms because their smell disturbed the other students. You always knew it was ramp season when you'd see students sitting in the hallways or helping the janitors or being somewhere other than their normal classroom. I might have contributed to this too, I remember I'd take a sandwich baggy of raw ramps to school with me and sell them for 25 cents each to the boys so they could get out of class. Since I didn't eat the raw ramps, the teachers never suspected me as the "ramp pusher".

Matthew

Cathy said...

I love ramps in fried potatoes but I can't handle the smell anymore. The last time I had them was in 1990 with husband number one and I was not popular at work. I LOVE moolymoochers! My dad goes hunting them every year and we fry them up quick. Dad goes to my uncles down near Lewisburg and he finds a good bit. I saw them on Iron Chef and Mario Battali was all over them like they were french truffles.
I'm going to try your recipe as Al says the ex says she can't get the kids to smell better. How long would it stay on the skin I wonder?

Granny Sue said...

matthew, you leave as many comments as you want--you always have something good to offer. Thank you for the ramp research; some of that I knew, but the British ladies had me wondering. I'll bet my mother ate those english varieties because she loved anything onion. She never got to try ramps, though.

Larry is up for a day trip anytime! Let's set a date. He'll go whenever you say the word.

Cathy, I wonder if that recipe (folks, I left her a recipe for curing skunk stink on her blog) would work on ramps as well? i may have to dip Larry in a bath of it! let me know if it works on the kids.

Matthew Burns said...

Word. You said to say it when I was ready.

Really the next few weeks I'm free pretty much anytime. Talk it over with Larry and see when it best suits his schedule. You have my email.

Matthew

Janet, said...

I don't like ramps, but I love the mollymoochers!My son has already looked for them, even though I told him it was too early. Sure enough, he came back empty handed.

Small Pines said...

You know, I first learned about ramps from you. We're going to be down to South Carolina next month. Might have to look into this if I can.

lilly said...

I have never had ramps but do love garlic cooked with potatoes . What are mollymoochers?? Must be we do not have them where I live but we do have wild onions. Lilly

Granny Sue said...

Mollymoochers are wild morel mushrooms, lilly. They are a gourmet treat, absolutely delcious. They like certain growing conditions only, and can be difficult to find. But some lucky people have places ideal for their growing and harvest bumper crops. We're lucky to find a few, but I'll take what I can get.

Virginia said...

I love the idea of ramps. I'd never heard of them before. I think they are the local mosquito repellant provided by nature. I'm not sure they were meant to be wife repellant, but they work for that, too, I guess.

Tipper said...

I like ramps in fried potatoes-but not raw. Like Matthew-I remember kids who smelled so bad at school from eating ramps that they were excused or sent to the back of the room to sit alone!

Jason Burns said...

I could never stand the smell of ramps, much less eat them. Matthew is right though - I remember him "pushing" ramps all the time (and covering for him - I've told many a teacher that our mother didn't allow ramps in the house, so it couldn't have been Matthew).

Granny Sue said...

We had them for breakfast yesterday, with potatoes. Larry had cooked them Friday so they weren't potent at all, just tasty. Scrambled eggs, venison sausage, and fried potatoes with ramps, wheat toast with pear conserve, orange juice and tea. Yum!

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