They’re back! It’s the season again for ramps aka: wild leeks. For a time I thought they only grew wild in the eastern U.S. Surprise…they grow here! Like some strong cheeses, their “fragrance” is stronger than their taste. If you can get your hands on some, probably at the Farmer’s Markets, or if you are a forager, you will have your secret place. Scrambled eggs with ramps anyone? Or maybe try making some of the recipes linked below. The green tops are quite fragile and can bruise easily, so handle with care. At least they are not like stinging nettles where you need to wear gloves!
I did a little research and discovered a few things about ramps. The mountain people of Appalachia have long celebrated the spring arrival of ramps and believe they have great power as a tonic to ward off many ailments of winter; not unlike other spring festivals in other parts of the world, celebrating new greens. Today many ramp festivals take place in the eastern U.S.to celebrate their arrival. It is felt that ramp festivals may encourage harvest in unsustainable quantities, unfortunately.
Here in Canada, ramps are considered rare delicacies. Sadly, their growth is not as widespread as in Appalachia and they are protected in Quebec under Quebec law because they are considered a threatened species. People there are allowed to gather them for their own use but the protected status prohibits any commercial transactions of ramps; this prevents restaurants from serving ramps. The law does not always stop poachers, who find a ready market across the border in Ontario where ramps may be legally harvested and sold.
The ramps we have been lucky enough to buy have been foraged here in B.C. where to my knowledge, they are not endangered. I hope you are lucky enough to be able to try these delicacies!