Monday, April 18, 2011

Allium tricoccum Ramps aka Wild Leeks aka Holy Yum My Tastebuds Just Melted

Just finished the last morsel of Ooga's fantastic rendition of Katie Letcher Lyle's "Onions with Pasta". What an understated name for such a superb recipe! The book from which it came, The Foraging Gourmet, just earned itself a place of honor in our foraging library.

A few words on ramps.

  1. Wild leeks are not leeks. Wild food guides tend to offer advice like, "Cook like asparagus," or, "Prepare like a potato." However, this often leads the novitiate forager to assume that these delicacies will taste like asparagus or potato. Anyone who has eaten an Asian 'pear' knows that names can be misleading. Most wild foods are unique. You will not find a flavor like autumn olive anywhere but in an autumn olive. That being said, there are patterns of flavor among related plants. Wild parsnips have the wonderful sweetness of their cousin the carrot. Leeks are a member of the genus Allium. Onions, garlic, and (yes) leeks are too. The pungecy that you know in the cultivated varieties is there in the wild leek.

  2. Wild leeks are magical. In our area they only grow in the richest of soils, protected in little valleys. Walking in these places when the forest floor is carpeted in lush green while the rest of the world still sleeps in an unopened bud is like walking in a church. It inspires reverence in the open heart. So many early spring greens are bitter. Wild leeks are delectable.

Last night we had a French-style wild leek soup with some of Ooga's homemade chicken stock. Hooray for this versatile spring plant.

1 comment:

  1. During the Civil War, soldiers talked of having to eat pickled vramatices. Would you know what they were referring to. (perhaps leeks?)