Saturday, April 08, 2006

What's That Smell?

I found ramps at the Asheville Farmer's Market this morning. I was only going to buy one bunch to experiment with. However, we asked the vendor if you could plant these and she said, "yes." She said that's what she does with the ones that don't sell. She even told us what sort of location they thrive in and how to plant them. I bought 3 bunches! So one bunch will be cleaned and cooked tomorrow and the other two will go in my top secret woodland patch along with the ginseng and goldenseal. Sshhh... it's very top secret...

For those of you unfamiliar with ramps(and it is easy to be unfamiliar with this member of the lily family), it is a relative of onions and garlic and is native only to Southern Appalachia. It has been a local favorite for longer than those of us of European descent have been around. It is only available for a short time each spring because after it blooms the leaves die back down and there's nothing again until the following spring. Lately its fame has spread far from its native soil, which has lead to overharvesting in some areas. Some people, like the woman at the Farmer's Market, have started to cultivate it and protect it. It is rather strong in odor, tastes great fried, in grits (this is the south!), sauteed with potatoes, and if you are really brave - raw. However, I think it is at its most noble stuffed into a freshly caught brook trout and cooked over coals. Trout season opened last weekend and I am slightly bummed that we missed the trout and ramp festival down in Cherokee. I'm going to have to find some trout. I'm sure Big Daddy won't mind if I send him fishing...

If you are lucky enough to find ramps, go easy - If you eat too many of them, your skin will smell of them for days. The smell in the kitchen was so great, I had to move them to the back porch. The only other delicacy I've had to do that with is Morbier cheese.


  1. Very cool. I have to admit I have never yet had the opportunity to taste ramps! They won't grow down here on the piedmont, I bet.

    The only other food I know of that exudes through your skin like that is fresh fenugreek. You probably remember my post where I made a fenugreek dish and then had stinky curry armpits for three days, repeated showers notwithstanding. (My mother was mortified that I would put that on the internet, but I appear to have just done it all over again.) :-)

  2. I remember your curry armpit episode!

    My mother would be mortified as well, but she never reads the blog - She did tell someone that I had something on the computer called a "blob". I love my mom. I won't tell your mom that you mentioned it again...

  3. Ooooh - I am jealous! You have your very own localised speciality! Indigenousness (that surely isn't a word...?) rules.

  4. "Indigenousness" should be a word!

  5. Anonymous8:43 AM

    Actually, I believe the word you are looking for is endemic. : ) and i ate ramps 2 weeks ago in boston with my fish. don't remember the fish, but i do remember that it came with ramps. thank you, N.C.