I Can’t Believe I Just Got to Do That
That’s what I told my friend Mya as I was leaving her restaurant, Dinamo, last night.
I had just eaten a beautiful dish of ramp pesto with handmade tagliatelle, but I could feel the warmth coursing through my veins before the very first bite hit my mouth. And what a hit it was! I might have some bruising, but I had waited for one long, lonely year to have the dish again and it was worth waiting for.
When I first tried Dinamo’s ramp pesto last year, my eyes closed involuntarily and I was transported to an oniony, garlicky, green-tasting galaxy somewhere between the Earth’s core and some star cluster yet undiscovered. The sounds around me melted together and for a brief moment, my whole world was smooth and comforting and right.
Something akin to magic was happening to my body, maybe to my aura too, and I wished for even my worst enemy to have this experience at least once in their miserable life.
The world has made a full trip around the sun, tears have been shed, I’m different now, you’re different too, but when I had my first ramp bite of the year last night, I was again transported to this euphoric island in my mind; a mystery world where everything is the right temperature, a forest sprite is dancing under a rhododendron, there are no worries and, if I’ve been good, Mya is singing somewhere in the background.
This world of mine also has no shortage of ramps, but I know that isn’t real life. I know that in the coming weeks the most local supply will dwindle and there will be another turn of the Earth and our lives will change again and again until the ramps come back. And I hope, with my whole body, that they do.
Indeed, some experts warn that over-foraging could ultimately be the demise of wild ramps as they grow far slower than our appetites can wait.
Some localities have made moves to try and preserve the pungent delicacy, like Quebec, where foraging of the plant for commercial use is illegal and fineable. Foraging has also been banned in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for similar concerns, although some argue that the traditional way of foraging (cutting the leaf off and leaving the bulb) is sustainable and should not be banned.
If that’s true, some legislation will likely make it’s way into the future of ramps and if it in any way will promise their return and my chances to bathe in it, I’m all for it.
Of course, some absolutely beautifully-minded farmers have been working to grow the plant from seed and they say that with the right soil, under the right trees at the right altitude and after anywhere from three to seven years, some lucky, patient woodland owner could make up to $2,000 an acre per year.
I can only hope that three to seven years ago, someone endeavored to ensure the plant’s success and that there will be no overlap between impending ramp doom and ramp abundance, but until this is guaranteed, I will enjoy the stinky little buggers until this season ends and then wait, breath baited, fingers crossed, until next year.
To enjoy your own other-worldly plate of ramp pesto in the Richmond, Virginia area, walk, don’t run, to Dinamo — reservations made by calling 804.678.9706
To find out about ramp happenings in your area, consider following @ampedforramps on Twitter