The Arc of Ramps: Wildcrafting

It's ramp season, and these oniony, smelly, tasty buggers are available almost every day at the Greenmarket. But it wasn't always so. In the past five years or so, producers have been responding to chefs' (and others'!) demands by cultivating ramps. Before that time, ramps grew wild on hillsides and were gathered rather than grown.

My first contact with a ramp was through my friend Mark who travels to West Virginia for a spelunking trip every spring, and he brought back a plastic grocery bag filled with rabbit-eared greens that smelled very, very strongly of onions. I was a little dubious. "You picked these yourself?" I asked him with a great deal of suspicion.

The practice of foraging for wild edible plants is called wildcrafting, and some amazingly delicious foods are harvested this way. Morels are the most obvious example. And those we still eat only wild, because we haven't found a way to cultivate them.

So my first wildcrafted ramps were totally unfamiliar, but their onion-garlic hybrid smell reminded me a bit of leeks, and said to me, potatoes. I made a ramp-potato soup in the exact vein of a French classic potato leek soup, and the recipe is in the post below.

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