Monday, April 16, 2012

Ramp fever

I committed blasphemy on the foraging Facebook page to which I belong. I said it out loud: I prefer field garlic to ramps. I choose Allium vineale over Allium tricoccum.

Thundering silence. I may be shunned. 

Even Euell Gibbons, the father of American foraging (in print, that is), despised field garlic. He said it stinks. I think it smells good.

I like ramps, and I like their green spring fling. I'm not rejecting them. But they are a pale cousin of the fragrant field garlic. Once cooked a ramp is an unassertive bite. Its leaves are very good, just crisped over the coals (above). But field garlic's bulb turns deeper, sweeter.

Also, it's still free. Ramps appear at farmers markets and high end gourmet stores for about $15 a pound. It's a once a year bonanza and a foodie legend has grown up around it. It's the mainstream foraged plant that most people know, whereas field garlic is still a weed popping up everywhere, ubiquitous, ignored, delicious. 

If field garlic were to be tied in a bundle with an $8 price tag attached to it, it would be the new hit of the season.

How to hide a ramp. Put it under four lamb shoulder chops.
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