“Delicious Delicacies” by Matthew D. Christianson

ramp2

Spring time brings many fresh produce items that chefs and foodies wait for all year. One such highly prized delicacy is the ramp, or “wild leek”, which belongs to the same pungent genus as onions, chives and garlic. The ramp’s odor is something akin to that of garlic and onion. We’re lucky to live in NYC because ramps are native to eastern North America, and also grow in Nova Scotia and southern Quebec, New England and the central Appalachian states.

Ramps get their funny name from the British Isles, where a related plant grows wild called the “Ramson”.  The English folk name “ramson” (son of Ram), referred to the plant’s habit of popping up during the sign of Aries (March 20 to April 20) on the zodiac calendar.

To early Native Americans and, later, the white settlers, ramps were an important and welcome addition to the early spring menu. Even the fresh and tender-green ramp leaves with their strong onion-garlic taste were a drastic improvement on the bland winter fare. Ramps were also regarded as a spring tonic that cleansed the blood.

Even today, modern science supports this folk tradition of purification. Ramps are a good source of Vitamin C, as well as prostaglandin A1, a fatty acid known to be therapeutic in the treatment of hypertension. Studies have also shown that ramps combat heart disease by reducing levels of cholesterol. So quite by accident, (Just like many great discoveries!) and following their taste buds early mountain folk discovered a valuable nutritional supplement that is truely delicious!

Click here for delicious recipes!

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