Appalachian people have dug up and eaten this wild member of the onion family for centuries. Ramps are valued both as a spring tonic and for providing relief from cold symptoms. Their pungent flavor is also used to spice up foods like eggs, potatoes and salad greens. A great deal of ritual surrounds them. Ramp patches discovered in the woods are kept secret to protect annual spring harvests from rival diggers. Ramp-eating contests demonstrate the stamina of the contestants’ stomachs. Their odor is reputed to ooze from one’s breath and pores for days following a meal. If you want to experience the power of ramps for yourself, search out one of the numerous ramp festivals that pop up throughout the mountains in early spring each year.
Digital Heritage Moments are produced at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. To learn more, visit digitalheritage.org. You may also hear Digital Heritage Moments each weekday on radio stations WKSF-FM, WWCU-FM, WMXF-AM, WPEK-AM and WWNC-AM.