As a Nature and Travel Photographer, you have to travel and get out there and explore. Sometimes you can combine both travel and nature. Like my recent trip to Richwood, West Virginia. This past weekend, I was invited to attend Richwood’s 80th Annual Ramp Festival, or ‘Feast of the Ramson’ (as it is officially called). I was very impressed with their commitment to tradition. Richwood is considered like the Ramp Capital of the World. At least that is my understanding. That is what one of the things they are known for.
Until last year, I had never heard of ‘ramps’. A close friend told me about them, and now it is something I hope to look forward to attending again.
For those of you who don’t know (as I recently didn’t either), a ramp (whose proper horticulture name is ‘Allium Tricoccum’) is classified as an herb. It has is found in woodlands of Eastern United States from Carolinas to Canada, according the book “Having Your RAMPS and Eating Them Too” by Glen Facemire, Jr.
I’ve read this book, and it was very informative. I think Mr. Facemire is referred to by some as the Ramp man. I have to disclose that I know Mr. Facemire’s nephew, but I have no financial interest in the sale of this book. Just thought I would share a good source of information on Ramps. The book even has recipes in the back.
Long story short is, you probably won’t be able to grow ramps in your garden. They mostly grow wild in the woods. Seems they like the cool, moist and shady conditions from the forest floor. I even found some myself while walking in a nearby Monongahela National Forest. However, I’m going to share those pictures and experience in a separate blog article.
How can I describe ramps…. they are like a cross between an onion and garlic, but they look like a spring onion but will a wider green top that looks like a tulip’s foliage. They have a strong smell when out of the ground and raw. Tried one raw. That was an experience. Almost tasted like horseradish. But cooked they have a milder flavor and not an onion flavor at all. It has a sweet and spicy flavor to me. So far I’ve cooked them in eggs, and fried potatoes (homefries style), and had them boiled and fried stem and all served like greens along side ham, bacon, potatoes, eggs, corn bread and baked beans. I was expecting to get try something called ‘corn pone’ (which I understand is like corn bread, but sweeter and very moist). But went to two ramp dinners and neither had corn pone. Only corn bread …. so maybe next time.
Well about the festival. It was held last Saturday, March 21st, 2018. It was a big event for the normally quiet town. In addition to the Ramp Dinner held in the Cherry River Elementary School, there were tons of vendors selling Arts and Crafts. Everything from people selling Ramp Jelly and other preserves and jams, Ramp Wine among other wines, Kettle Corn, Hot Dogs, fudge, homemade candy, and nut breads. I purchased some Ramp Jelly and tasted the Ramp wine (but settled on three other types including Dandelion Wine) I didn’t know you could make wine from dandelions.
They also had so many talented artists and craftsmen (and craftswomen). One guy made Turkey calls (for hunters), and others had fancy wooden bowls and vases in beautiful rich colors. I purchased several items, but am now kicking myself for not getting that caramel and chocolate fudge (although I was trying not to get too far off my diet for the weekend).
This post is getting too long. So I will share more photos of the festival and contact info. of some of the vendors in another post on this blog.
Below is a picture of some of the goodies I went home with.
Oh year, I almost forgot. I brought back 2 pounds of freshly picked ramps. Didn’t realize how small they are. Its a lot of work to clean them. But I shared them with some family and friends and everyone back here in Raleigh seem to really like them. Although, until I mentioned ramps this past year, no one had heard of them. I’m surprised that I never had them, since I’m from Tennessee and seems they grow in the mountains there also. But we didn’t live near any mountains… but we ate every other type of green(s).