Friday, April 30, 2010

Ramping It Up

Am I crazy?

After all, would a sane person fly more than 2,500 miles for a small town event that lasts four hours? Would a sane person then drive six hours from Columbus to Southern West Virginia just so that she could make it to the last hour of the event? Would a person playing with a full deck take a chance that she'd miss the event entirely if she took a wrong turn down a country road? Would a gal with both oars in the water travel for 18 hours just to eat ramps at the Feast of the Ransom in Richwood, West Virginia?

Maybe not crazy so much as obsessed with wild ramps, a cross between a leek and garlic that grows rampant in woodsy areas from South Carolina to Canada.

Of course, when you consider the scenery in West Virginia, the insanity case becomes a little weaker.

The last hour of the drive was alongside a tree-lined stream.

The ostentatious gateway below is not typical of the ramshackle homes that line the country roads. I thought at first this was horse property, but the stone facade is strictly for show. In fact, you'll see more church steeples than stables in this part of the country.

It was easy to tell when I'd entered ramp country, but I had no time to stop. I had a festival to attend.

As luck would have it, I arrived in time for the crowning of the Ramp Princess. I love the crossed ankle pose of the girl on the right. I think she learned that in Ramp Charm School.

I followed this pony-tailed couple to the ramp feed.

The line for the ramps was so long that I felt like I was waiting for a Korean taco at the Kogi BBQ Truck in LA. While I waited, I chatted with folks about their favorite ways to prepare ramps. West Virginians like to par boil them and then saute them in bacon fat with eggs or potatoes. When I was growing up, my mom sauteed them with scrambled eggs. We rolled the stinky concoction in flat bread that we bought from our Syrian neighbors.

The man on the left had time to grow his beard.

I fell in love with the sassy tea, the perfect ramps pairing. I'm looking for a local source for sassafras root so that I can brew my own sassy tea at home.

While waiting in line, I passed many Richwood volunteers wearing Feast of the Ransom aprons and ramp brooches. And I couldn't resist stealing a raw ramp or two from the plates scattered throughout the tables.

At last it was time for the ramp feed. The ramps were boiled and then sauteed. I wish that the cooks had also added ramps to the beans and cornbread.

In true West Virginia fashion, the ramps are cooked to within an inch of their life.

I like 'em raw.

After I returned to Los Angeles, I had a hankering for ramps. I satisfied that craving with a trip to Pizzeria Mozza, where I ordered the ramp pizza.

I brought home three slices of pizza, but when I went to retrieve my left overs, I found that the pizza was gone. The only things in the box were the sauteed greens and bulbs of the ramps. And that suited me just fine.

Now, how crazy is that?


Cafe Pasadena said...

I don't know if you're crazy, or how crazy you may bee. I don't think you've convinced me to fly across country for this. Nevertheless, I'm glad you recognized you had to post this today or else be MIA for April on this blog.

I like your pics & this made for an interesting story.

Ann said...

Susan, I LOVE the picture of you! You look beautiful & the ramp isn't too bad, either. :)

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I love that picture of you smoking a ramp

Susan C said...

CP, Geesh, that would have been pathetic to let another month go by without blogging.

Ann, Beautiful? My hair and dress are disheveled, no makeup and is my nose getting bigger? But thanks.

PA, Nothing like lighting up a ramp!

Amy said...

I think is very far from insane. I need to learn more about these ramps, we sadly had none in Ohio. Will they still be around in June? Taking a trip over that way then!

Petrea Burchard said...

Fantastic post of a fabulous adventure. I'm so glad you went. I might call you crazy but I would never call you a t-ramp.

Margaret said...

Love this post. Love the pictures. But I'm worried that some waiter stole your pizza? It's the principle of the thing that bothers me.

Susan C said...

Petrea, "T-ramp" - that's funny!

Mary Bergfeld said...

Once I hit "Ramp Princess Charm School" I was with you every inch of the way. You are really cool/rad - what ever the new word might be :-). Folks who love food and small town festivals understand that compelling urge to visit such events. I hope you had a fantastic time. Blessings...Mary

Anonymous said...

So when I saw the Fresh Ramps sign, it made me think -- ramps don't come preserved, do they? Can't imagine, given their reputaton, what it would smell like to open a can.

Susan C said...

Mary, even at very small town events, it's amazing to see the crowds. Or maybe that's because they are small towns.

AH, As much as I love ramps, I can't stomach the thought of canned ramps (cramps?).

Food Gal said...

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. Not crazy at all! Some of us go that nutso for shoe sales. So going that hog-wild for ramps is totally acceptable. ;)

Fay said...

I didn't know they existed but now I will watch for them and hope to try them.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

My question is: Where is Pizzeria Mozza getting their ramps and where can we get some too? :)

Nice to see you blogging again.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Happy Mothers Day!

digital flowers from my garden

Unknown said...

Never heard of ramps until I read this post. Then I spotted two recipes in less than a day. Wow!