Ramps ‘by god’ Virginia
Swear to god, I’m gonna write more. Screw inspiration.
Just picked up some ramps from the West Virginia/Virginia border. My digger is a true mountain man, Bill Kincaid. He pretty much hunts every day of the year: deer, turkey, ramps, morels or chanterelles. He has become a friend as well. We have a lot in common seein’ as how my Dad was born not far away, in the hills of WV. Hey, maybe we’re related!
Years ago ramps made my personal list of the ten great foods of the world. They’re either a wild leek, wild garlic, wild onion, lily of the valley or the source of all that’s holy, depending on whom you ask. Raw, they’ll make your eyes flutter. Dip them into good salt first. Cooked they become rich and deeply flavorful. Ramps seem to grow best throughout the Ohio Valley, and not too well anywhere else. I’ve had ‘em from the Northwest but they’re wimpy.
Back in the days before interstates, very little ‘foreign’ produce made its way to the dinner tables in the ‘hollers’ of West Virginia. So the Hatfields and the McCoys made do with whatever they could hunt, or forage. They ate ramps and eggs for breakfast, ramp sandwiches for lunch and ramp salad with dinner. Out of self defense, they passed a law that allowed teachers to send home any students that ate ramps to the point that ramp essence oozed out their pores.
To that point, the first time Bill dug ramps for me I went to him to get them. The next time I told him to stick them on a Greyhound bound for Richmond and I picked them up at the Greyhound station in Richmond. A week later he got a letter from Greyhound saying that whatever it was he shipped, please don’t do it again.
Hopefully we’ll have ramps into early May. Today I added a couple of raw ramps to an egg salad sandwich on warm, freshly baked pita. Holy shit.