What? Assertive allium. Even within the onion family-hardly the shrinking lillies of the vegetable kingdom-ramps are infamous: "The vilest-smelling, sweetest-tasting weed in East Tennessee," as Alice Geffen and Carole Berglie described them in Food Festival. Ramps grow wild along the East Coast from the Carolinas to New England, although they are most prevalent in Appalachia. Many towns in that region celebrate ramp festivals each spring, during which they crown a Miss Maid of Ramps and hold ramp-eating competitions. (The record in Waynesville, North Carolina stands at 94 ramps eaten in 10 minutes, according to Barbara Carlson's Food Festivals.) New Yorkers can find ramps-which are larger than scallions and smaller than leeks-at the Greenmarket in early spring, but don't blink or they'll be gone; the season is very short. Southerners favor frying the vegetable in bacon fat, mixing in scrambled eggs, and serving the dish with crusty cornbread. But the bulbs also work in any recipe that calls for onions, leeks, or scallions.
When? April 5, Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, Arrows