Friday, March 30, 2007

Wild Leeks

Click on colored links to go there.
Today we went digging leeks down by Westline. I have been going to the same area to dig leeks for at least 20 years. Leeks are a popular item in this area. Either you love them or you hate them if you can get by the smell. Actually Westline has been known for years for having a annual leek festival and now Bradford has what they call Stinkfest every year with a lot of events and many recipes containing leeks cooked in many different ways.
The technical story relating to leeks is as follows from the online encyclopedia called Wikipedia.
The name Wild leek can also refer to Allium ampeloprasum, a native of Europe.
Wild leeks (Allium tricoccum), also known as ramps, are a member of the onion family (Alliaceae). Both the white root and the broad green leaves are edible. They are found from the U.S. state of South Carolina to Canada and are especially popular in the cuisine of the US state's of West Virginia and Pennsylvania when they emerge in the springtime. A common description of the flavor is like a combination of onions and strong garlic.
In central Appalachia, ramps are most commonly fried with potatoes in bacon grease or scrambled with eggs and served with bacon, pinto beans, and cornbread. Ramps, however, are quite adaptable to almost any food style and can also be used in soups, puddings, ketchup, guacamole and other foods, in place of onions and garlic. Some people like them raw, but others say the aroma of raw wild leeks stays with one for days.
Communities in this area hold annual leek festivals and local fire departments and even some church's have "Ham & Leek" dinners which bring hundreds of leek aficionados from considerable distances to sample foods featuring the plant. During the leek season (late winter through early spring), restaurants, bars, fire departments and church's in local towns serve a wide variety of foods containing wild leeks. Leek dips seem to be a favorite with everyone and each person has their own special recipe which they consider the best.

Leek Trivia
The name of the U.S. city Chicago originates from "Checagou" (Chick-Ah-Goo-Ah) or "Checaguar," which in the Potawatomi language means "wild onions" or "skunk." The area was so named because of the smell of rotting marshland wild leeks (ramps) that used to cover it.
The strong smell of leeks is also said to keep away vampires in folklore, much like garlic.
Ramps (leeks) appear quite often on the Food Network show, Iron Chef America, used by Iron Chefs and challengers alike.

No comments: