Get Ramped

Get Ramped: The pungent mountain plant makes its spring return
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Get ready, Southern Appalachia: The super short—and super pungent—ramp season has arrived. These foraged alliums are one of the first veggies to hit the scene come spring, but they only stick around our neck of the woods for two to three weeks. Ramps have a distinct aroma and flavor: a cross between onion and garlic. In fact, mountain lore holds that kids were often “excused” from school during harvest time due to their odor. No matter, though: Ramps, aka wild leeks, are increasingly popular culinary fare.  

Find ramps now at farmers markets, restaurants, and these festivals and fund-raisers:

 

Rainbow & Ramps Festival
March 26 | Cherokee

This fest is all about ramps, but it also honors Cherokee traditions and unofficially kicks off the local fishing season. (Cherokee’s annual Opening Day Fishing Tournament is the same weekend.) For $10, enjoy ramps and rainbow trout. The event also includes bingo, music, clogging, and performances by the Warriors of AniKituhwa. >> Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds, 545 Tsali Blvd.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; $10 for meal; (800) 438-1601; visitcherokeenc.com

Graham County Rescue Squad’s Ramp Dinner
April 24 | Robbinsville

This special meal is the rescue squad’s biggest fund-raiser. Ramps will make appearances both raw and cooked. Expect ramp slaw and ramp hush puppies. For the mains? Trout and chicken. >> Graham County Rescue Squad, 125 Moose Branch Rd.; Sunday, 11 a.m.; $10; (828) 479-7985

Waynesville Ramp Festival
April 30 & May 1 | Waynesville

The Waynesville community certainly reveres ramps, as can be witnessed during this long-running annual festival. The event features live music, clogging, and of course, the chance to enjoy a meal starring ramps. For those brave enough, it also includes a raw ramp-eating contest. >> American Legion Field, 171 Legion Dr.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, noon-4 p.m.; (828) 456-8691