Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ramp, Anyone?




Yesterday, a friend posted a picture of a delicious looking meal he had made that included grilled lamb loin chops, a spring salad of asparagus, ramps, peas and snap peas with poached egg and lemon zest vinaigrette. Needless to say, they're eating well at his house; the man is a virtual gourmet. Note that I'm not saying what Gonzo and I ate last night. Hubzam is on a business trip and we get pretty basic while he is gone.

One thing jumped out at me: the word RAMPS. Ramps and I have a sordid past. 

If you're not familiar with ramps (Allium tricoccum), they are a wild leek that grows in higher elevations of eastern North America. Let's be more specific: Appalachia loves ramps and the proof can be found in their Ramp Festivals. I happen to have been born within the parameters of Appalachia and frequently returned when my relatives were mainly above ground. My first mother-in-law, Mary Beatrice, lived smack dab in the middle of ramp country in southern West Virginia and it was there that I experienced my first ramp festival. 

In the beginning, I was intrigued. I knew about ramps, but they were never a big thing in our neck of Appalachia...we were more "Ohio Valley" West Virginians. My grandmother had pointed them out and I'd picked some, but never really ate them. They smelled great - like a garlicy onion. So when I heard about this festival, I was kind of excited at the prospect. I could imagine all these wonderful ramp experts dusting off their best recipes and showing off their country culinary skills.

When the day of the festival arrived, the whole county smelled like ramps and I'm not even joking. I also learned that every church in town had their own version of the ramp festival going on. Wow, I thought, this is going to be great. I'll bet they're all doing something a little different. How interesting!

On the drive to my mother-in-law's church, she told me about the bushels of ramps that all the men of the church had collected and described the outdoor set-up for cooking. Casually, I asked her what kind of dishes they made? 

"Mainly eggs and ramps, " she replied.

"Oh, like an omelet?"

"No, just scrambled eggs and ramps."

No variety? Okay, I can accept that. But scrambled eggs? Really?  That didn't sound appetizing at all. 

In spite of the initial impression, I tried them. 

There should have been a bar chart of "ramp appeal": first bite, 95% appealing. Second bite, not as much: 85% appealing. By the third and fourth bite, we were in the thirty percentiles, at best. Never has an opinion gone down hill so quickly. I started eyeing the cook and the garbage can, my eyes darting between the two. I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but the can and the plate were about to meet. As soon as he turned his back, I dunked that thing like Meadowlark Lemon. Darn if that didn't raise a ramp stink. Everyone move slowly! The less air movement, the better. Trust me!

In the spirit of community, we visited some other church festivals whose sole offering was - you guessed it - scrambled eggs and ramps. My stomach was crying foul and I wondered if I had terminal car sickness from the twisting and turning road or possible ramp-n-egg poisoning, a deadly but misunderstood disorder.

For the next week, my mother-in-law brought home leftover ramps. I passed.

Which brings me to another point I want to make about one of the great things about living in the North. Southern friends would debate whether or not there is anything better (stop it! I'm right here, for crying out loud!) but I can tell you with road-tested certainty that once you get north of the Mason-Dixon, most people are ramp-ignorant. They couldn't identify a ramp if you paid them. For the record, I'm not paying them. EVER.

One of my Euell-Gibbons-wannabe (linked, just in case that name is not familiar) friends was fascinated by the idea of ramps and constantly brought wild plants to me and asked if they were ramps. He never got it right and his efforts created a running joke amongst my friends. We'd pick up anything and ask out loud, to no one in particular, "Is this a ramp? Can anyone confirm whether or not this is a ramp?"

My first mother-in-law has passed away now; she was an angel. If I was smart, though, I'd have divorced my first husband over the family's ramp affinity - but no! I hung around till he really gave me great reasons to leave him.

Fortunately, my current perfect Hubzam's mother never mentions ramps. I'm grateful beyond measure.

NEWS!! NEW!! NEWS!!
The Bonehead Blog Hop date has been changed to May 5th! Click on the link (over there...you see it...on the right) and join me for a heart felt confession of your favorite bonehead memory, whether new or old. Come on, you can do it! Thanks, peeps!


Better Late Than Never: 
My A-t0-Z Blog Challenge theme comes a day late - I just signed up! 
My theme is musicians!


33 comments:

  1. CHERDO ~
    The only "ramps" I know are onramps and offramps.

    I have no idea what an edible (although I guess you'd dispute the use of that word) ramp looks like. I don't think I've ever even heard of them, and a large part of my family and relatives came from Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. I've been in the Deep South, and have had moonshine, grits, grits, and more grits. Also, that stuff you slice and fry and cover with syrup. I think it's sometimes called "cornmeal mush" but there's another word for it, too. ...But I ain't never had no ramps.

    Meadowlark Lemon and Euell Gibbons?! Sure, I know who they are (or were), but I'm over 50. The first one played with b***s and the other one ate n**s. (Uhm... g'wan and delete comment if necessary. Not sure if that's a bridge [or ramp] too far.) I know your under-50 readers are gonna be scratchin' and goin' "Huh?"

    Old days, good times I remember
    Fun days filled with simple pleasures
    Drive-in movies, comic books and blue jeans
    Howdy Doody, baseball cards and birthdays
    Take me back to a world gone away
    Memories seem like yesterday

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I'm not deleting that, ha ha, because the Lemon and Gibbons comments were correct in all their glorious innuendo. That is, in fact, what they did.

      Equally correct: that is exactly what everyone in Ohio said...."What is a ramp? Did you make that up?" And just for the record, if I could have pranked someone into tasting a freeway ramp, I would have. It just seems right.

      Meanwhile, a ramp-pollution cloud hung over southern WV in the Spring.

      You could probably do a ramp-per-capita (RPC) map and the farther away from WV you get, the less RPC. Just one more thing to use to mock WV. Oh, well.

      I changed the Bonehead Blog Hop to May 5th...jump on, D-FensDogG!

      Delete
  2. Never heard of ramps before. But after looking them up, they look a little like the wild onions that grow around here. Except our wild onions just have a straight green stalk coming out of the ground. The mower keeps the tops even with the grass.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ....meanwhile, in WV, people are picking their yards...

      Actually, we usually found them on the side o' the hill.

      Delete
  3. I've never heard of ramps before. I just Googled them. Hmmm, I don't think I'd pick my own food. I'd probably mess up and end up cooking weeds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe that is why most people don't pick from the wild. That and the fact that every dog on the planet thinks the outdoors are their own personal rest stop.

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. I'm so surprised my ode to ramps didn't make you just run out and yank some up...insert the necessary smirk smile here.

      Delete
  5. The ramps would probably just give me cramps

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In your head you'd think you're dead.

      Delete
  6. I can almost smell these. I'm from Illinois originally, so had to look up the ramps on Google as well. Garlicky onion, sounds gross in eggs, maybe in a meat loaf or something? Anyway, I'll pass. In Illinois we used to pick wild asparagus, and that was good, or wild strawberries that were so tiny but sweet. Thanks for our education this morning, Cherdo! Thank heavens I have more time to think on the bonehead thingy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know that you're willing to DO something boneheaded just so we won't leave you out. And we won't, Linda.

      Delete
  7. I once tried to eat a ramp. But cars kept running over my head.
    Speaking of [bone]heads, I just signed up. Now, the problem...? Picking which one...?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was thinking your were more like the "kiss the curb" kinda guy.

      Delete
  8. I've never heard of ramps but being in the UK I suppose that's not a surprise. I bet they go well with a cheese sauce but scrambled eggs!! Er no, that's not a taste sensation I'd want to try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The UK may be just barely far enough away from the scent.

      Delete
  9. Until this post, I'd never even heard of a ramp. Mixed with eggs only? That would get old fast.
    I might join you in May for the blogfest, but I'll be posting one day early.
    And musicians! Awesome. Glad you are on board for the Challenge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alex, I'll take you a day early, a day late, however you want to do it. I'm flexible like that.

      Delete
  10. This is the first I'm hearing of "ramps." I'm trying to imagine what they taste like. Very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  11. As an Ohio Valley Appalachain, I am like you...I've heard of ramps, but never actually seen or eaten one. Sort of like Big Foot, people talk of them and I've often caught a whif of someone who might have had an encounter, but that's all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent comparison. And like Big Foot, no one really wants to be faced with them, no matter how curious.

      Delete
  12. I never heard of ramps. In fact I thought you were actually talking about an actual ramp and wondering why there would be some celebration about ramps...I then realized it is food. (bonehead thought # 356:)) I never bought leeks either because i really don't know what a leek is. My mother didn't either and she was a great cook but leeks were not in her area where she grew up (Wittenberg, Germany)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now, leeks - I love! I make a leek soup that is one of the family's favorites.

      Delete
  13. Oh an will be great to read about musicians. I can think of a bonehead move to do for May:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you work at it, you can do boneheaded things. And it gets easier over time.

      Delete
    2. see I proved my point..about me:)

      Delete
  14. OK, I honest to God would never have known what ramps were until you posted this. In Memphis a ramp is something we used to get onto the interstate, or else to load our motorcycle into the back of our pickup trucks. Who knew you could cook and eat the things?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blacktop will get tender if you only cook it long enough.

      Delete
  15. Wow! It's wonderful that so many people now know what ramps are (the onion like food/plant...not what we use to get on and off a freeway)! I wonder if everyone will find it just as interesting that there are actually NO ramps in the photo I posted? ... I couldn't find any ramps in the store...go figure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I looked closely at that picture and I thought they were absent, but what did I know?

      I've never seen ramps in the store, which gives me hope for humanity.

      Delete
  16. Another confession... In my entire live, I've never even tasted a single ramp! (I was hoping to but....well....)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go outside and walk towards WV...use your nose...

      Delete

Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo