It's a meal centered around one of West Virginia's favorite wild foods, the wild ramp (or rampion, as it is called by some). In our state, there are many civic organizations that host ramp dinners, or ramp feeds as they are often called, during April and early May. That is when the wild ramps are young, tender and at their best.
Larry's recent expeditions in the hills have produced a nice lot of ramps for our meals and freezer. Last night we invited some friends over and prepared a traditional ramp dinner just for the five of us.
What is typically served at a ramp dinner? The answer might surprise you. This is simple country food, not anything fancy, although some places do have cooking contests for ramps, and try many unusual recipes with them. But most ramp dinners stick to the tried and true. Here's a closer photo of what we fixed last night:
Starting at the top and moving clockwise:
- scrambled eggs (from our chickens--I made these without ramps, but many people mix ramps into the eggs)
- applesauce (from our cellar)
- fried red-skinned potatoes (not from the cellar, though--ours have finally gotten too sprouted out to use)
- pinto beans with ramps (cooked by Larry)
- skillet cornbread (some people put ramps in the cornbread, but I didn't) with cow butter--a gift from a neighbor.
The only thing we were missing was sassafras tea--we haven't gone out to dig any roots yet.
Today Larry is trying something new--drying ramps. I'd like to have them on hand to use in other recipes year-round, as an alternative to garlic perhaps. We'll see how this experiment turns out.