Appalachian Fine Dining–Wild Greens

a mess of rampsIt’s that time of year. That time when the old folks would be shunning preserved foods for something fresh. Something green. Poke sallat is tender and green. Fiddleheads look like belated Christmas ornaments. Ramp dinners are raising money all up and down the Appalachians.

My great-grandmother would be thrilled with the addition of all this chlorophyll and vitamin C to her family’s diet. And I, too, could be dining on fresh, wild produce. I know what it looks like. I know to pick Dandelion greens in wild places where they haven’t been treated with chemicals. I could dig a mess of ramps quicker than I could run to the store.

But I don’t. Honestly, I’m just not that fond of these fresh, wild greens that were basically a matter of survival for my ancestors. Maybe I need another generation or two between me and this not very glamorous foraging–not for delicacies–but for sustenance.

I have a friend who took a cooking class in France. They prepared creasy greens and rabbit among other dishes. Hmmm. So. They cooked plants my grandmother would have gathered in the ditches with meat my grandfather would have shot or trapped. I’m sure it was delicious, but it seems incongruous to me that this is fine dining.

I’m all for home-grown foods–for native foods indigenous to a place. But ramps make you stink. Poke turns poisonous later in the season and fiddleheads? Well, I prefer to look at them.

Bon appetit.

18 thoughts on “Appalachian Fine Dining–Wild Greens

  1. Lori

    Sarah–it is always a joy to see your blog come up on my gmail page. I love reading it and always take something special away. Thanks.

  2. Jesse and I read about a particular green that grows wild everywhere (can’t think of name), even my backyard and supposed to be REALLY good for you. So we tried it. Meh. Then I bought some at the farmer’s market that had been raised specifically for sale (I thought it might taste better). Meh again. I think our palates change. I’ll stick with fresh herbs grown in the yard.

  3. Mom

    Fresh, young, tender poke is free asparagus! I have friends who try to tell me ramps only make you stink if you eat them raw… I’ll leave them to it.

  4. Fiddleheads are a bit deal around here and one taste of them was enough for me to crack open a can of beans. Years ago, we had some scientists visiting from Mexico and the peeps in charge decided a lobster boil with fiddleheads would be impressive. THEY wanted to know WHY they were given giant bugs and weeds for supper.

  5. Molly B

    Oh my, I LOVE ramps! I was sad that they weren’t up yet when we visited French Creek for Easter. One time, my grandma mailed me a mess priority mail (with the roots on) and the mail lady STILL teases me about how they stunk up the whole post office! My favorite way is to wrap one around a corner of a pickled egg and sprinkle with salt.

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