Saturday, March 10, 2012
RAMPS, LEEKS, AND ST. DAVID'S DAY
Last month, for our monthly dinner party, I wanted to make a special soup which required leeks. Alas, not one store in Washington C.H. had leeks. To the Produce Manager at Kroger I lamented, "It's so close to St. David's Day, I can't believe that you don't have leeks." Seeing the dumfounded look, I proceeded to bore the poor guy about Welsh men wearing leeks in their lapels on March 1--St. David's Day--and women wearing daffodils!
I had always wondered how the men kept those huge vegetables in their lapels. The parents of my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandmother, Nancy Morgan Givens, came from Wales and I have long had an interest in Wales. I was glad the women from Wales could wear daffodils instead of leeks on St. David's Day!
Yesterday, one of my friends asked, "Have you ever heard of ramps?" I asked, "As in freeway ramps?" She said, "No, the vegetable ramps--I thought you knew everything!"
When I went home, I called my brother and asked if he'd heard of the vegetable ramps and even he--who usually does know EVERYTHING--said that he didn't.
Finding it on the internet, I was delighted to find that ramps are wild LEEKS!
In talking to my elderly client this morning, I asked if he knew what the vegetable ramps are and he said, "Sure, they grow wild all the way up to Quebec!" He said that he'd even tasted ramps!
Later, in talking to a another brother--who obviously DOES know everything--he said, "Yeah, I bet those Welsh guys substitute ramps for the big leeks on St. David's Day!" I exclaimed, "HOW do you know about St. David's Day, leeks, AND ramps."
He answered, "I also know about daffodils. It was on a chyron on March 1."
WHEW, I'm glad I knew the word chyron ["graphics or words at the bottom of a TV screen, usually unrelated to the current viewing content"] or I would have lost all credibility in the family!
From the BBC News:
Prince Charles visited Carmarthenshire to mark St David's Day, as events take place at home and across the world. Parades were staged in Cardiff and Wrexham as part of celebrations. And St David's Day is also being marked in places as far afield as China and New York.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Wales has given a sermon, urging people in Wales to keep "our identity" without being "narrowly nationalistic".
The Welsh dragon is flying above Downing Street, while Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan is due to read at the annual St David's Day chapel service at the House of Commons.
There will be St David's Day events in cities across the United States, as part of Wales Week.
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton sent over her best wishes to the "people of Wales". "On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Wales as you celebrate St David's Day," she said. "The United States is enriched by years of influence from Welsh-Americans."
From Time U.S.:
Have you ever found yourself saying, "Ah, a fine spring day at last! I wish I had a ramp to gnaw on!"
No? Then you're unlike the many, many chefs and green-market enthusiasts across the country who constitute the Church of the Ramp. Of course, they don't really gnaw on raw ramps, also known as wild leeks; they pickle them, char them and do a million other artful things with the onion-like stalk, the first green vegetable of spring in much of North America. There is no shortage of enthusiasts, both at home and in restaurants; after all, the Church of the Ramp is one of the fastest-growing denominations in the religion of seasonality.
"Ramps are a spring treat that have a quick season and are much better-tasting than cultivated leeks, scallions or chives," says Mark Fuller of Seattle's Spring Hill, one of Food and Wine's best new chefs last year. "Our guests also get excited for ramps."
"The ramp is not a salad green, but it is a green vegetable, and it is the first legitimately green thing that appears from the ground in April.