Sunday, April 30, 2017

on ramp

it's ramp season.

i love ramps, but the only ones i had ever found were in the grocery store, and that only because the small market in the nearby town has a forage supplier.


it's easy to know where they're likely to grow, but they're ephemeral. they come up in spring and three weeks later they disappear. if you know where they're going to come up, you can find them. if you don't know where they're going to come up, you can only guess for forty-nine weeks out of the year.

the thing is that they are very common and grow in a lot of places, but also not entirely predictably and they're not easily domesticated. you can totally grow them in your garden, if your garden is a slopy woodland with a lot of shade.

so, not good terrain for commercial cultivation. the upshot of this is that foragers have a history of over harvesting them because there's a lot of demand for them at farmers' markets and upscale restaurants. the problem has gotten so bad in quebec that it's illegal to pick them for commercial purposes. ramps are a slow growing plant. they are on the decline nearly everywhere, but they don't have to be.

MB (who coaches me on a lot of these things) tells me that if you only take one leaf from a plant and don't dig up the bulb, a patch will do just fine.

anyway, i found a patch. a big patch.

so this is what i did with them:

i made a pot of good fresh pasta and while that was cooking, i heated some butter in a pan and tossed in the cut ramp leaves until they were wilty. then when the pasta was cooked, i put some of that in the pan with the ramps and butter and some of the pasta water and cooked it just until it thickened and i tossed it on a plate with a salmon fillet cooked good and plain with just a little salt and pepper.


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