Friday, May 29, 2009

Rampin' it up

I didn't know anyone outside of East Tennessee enjoyed eating ramps. Apparently, ramps are quite popular in Québec:

A few years ago, wild leeks, also known as ramps, were enjoyed only by foragers and gourmets who knew the woodland plant offered a delectable onion flavour with a hint of garlic. This year, the wild relative of the onion is everywhere. In grocery stores such as the upscale Pusateri's in

Toronto, ramps sell for $3.99 a bunch. They are also sold wholesale at the Ontario Food Terminal and distributed at greengrocers across the city. Ontario-picked ramps are even advertised in online classified ads in Montreal.

"It's crazy," says Anthony Rose, executive chef at Toronto's Drake Hotel who in the past few weeks has been approached by about 20 different sellers, more than two times the number of people who contacted him last year.

Then there's this ...

But all this attention isn't good news for the leek, says Gérald Le Gal, president of the Quebec-based Association for the Commercialization of Forest Mushrooms and owner of Gourmet Sauvage, a company that sells prepared wild fruits and vegetables.

He doesn't think anyone should be selling ramps.

"Don't touch the stuff. It's just too vulnerable," he says. When you pick a ramp, you take the entire plant, including the bulb. Once the bulb is gone, there is nothing left of the plant; it will not grow back the next year. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority considers it to be "a species of conservation concern." And eating a nice sized bulb could be the equivalent of dining on an old-growth cedar. "It's a really, really, slow-growth plant. A bulb could be 18 to 20 years old," Mr. Le Gal says.

WTF?! As any East Tennessee old-timer can tell you, Ramps are like wild onions. In an unattended field, the damn things will grow until you don't see nothing but ramps in said field.

Exactly how much ramp-diggin' are Québécois doin'?!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

were you at this years ramp festival?