It’s a little odd for me to pay for something that in childhood I used to pull out of my mother’s garden and lay on the sidewalk to dry. Ramps were not welcome in the house because of their sharp, swampy odor, though I thought their pink stems and silky green leaves pretty enough to wrap around dolls. My mother hated the smell of ramps even more than the star-topped stalks of field garlic, another pretty weed I like to pick. I remember a knowledgeable neighbor telling me that they were edible, but with the implication they were not a delicacy but a last resort. Like, if you were lost in the woods and starving you might consider eating ramps, but not before then.
Fortunately, ramps are as fashionable in the food world now as they were on my dolls back then. That means they’re sold at greenmarkets so that city folk everywhere can delight in the bittersweet wild leek experience.
I picked up my first bunch of the season today in Union Square, and they’re waiting for me to decide how to cook them. The decision feels momentous since ramp season is so short. I want to make sure they’re the star of the dish, not overwhelmed by too many fussy ingredients, but I also want that dish to be fairly special.
Sautéed with some olive oil and spring mushrooms? Ramp ravioli? Potato-ramp soup? Ramp-fried rice? Ramp pesto? Ramp omelet? Slivered over a salad?
Maybe I’ll have to forage for some in Central Park so I can make every ramp-filled recipe my heart desires. I just won’t bring any home to mom.