Ramps are a source of much pleasure for many, and some controversy. There has been a lot written about them in the past several weeks, as there always is in the early spring, in our seasonally-crazed food world. On the surface, they are a lovely harbinger of spring, wild leeks that are unable to be cultivated, hence part of their mystique (think truffles), and one of the first vegetables to appear in farmers’ markets and chefs’ menus after a winter of tubers and citrus. They essentially taste like a very garlicky leek or scallion. But because food people tend to jump on things and fetish-ize them, ramps have been placed firmly on a pedestal in recent years, and as with all things that are deified, the haters are not far behind.
Currently, some people think it’s cool to bow to the mighty ramp, and others pronounce ramps “yesterday.” I think the very idea of fashion and the onion family in one sentence is just weird.
So, the reason I am writing about ramps is because when we go stay in Connecticut, in the woods behind our house, there are thousands of the suckers. I did not even know what a ramp looked like growing in the ground until my old food pioneer friend, Christopher Idone, pointed them out to me. I think the flavor is fantastic, and I love that you can use the whole thing stem to stern, but what I think is even more fantastic is the fact that I can drag my kids into the woods with a couple of shovels and a bag, forage for something edible (and P.S. I wouldn’t recognize a safe-to-eat mushroom if it bit me on the ass), and make dinner with it.
So, I will let the “foodies” (oh, would someone please come up with another name) duke it out. I will just continue to prod my children into the trees and derive a matchless shiver of pleasure from cooking with something we pulled up from the ground, and didn’t even plant.
As you can see, things have been a little rampy in our house. There is only a week or two left of this, and then I’ll move on, and the scent of wild leeks will fade from my children’s breath. But first, one more batch of Pasta with Creamy Ramps.