“RAMPING UP” the Church Breakfast with Wild Onions…Have you ever heard of “Ramps”, a strong wild onion? The Ramp is an early spring vegetable that grows wild in the mountains. It has a strong onion and garlic type smell and taste. If you eat them raw the odor can stay with you (and others around you) for days. In the mountain communities ramps are usually cooked with potatoes, bacon or eggs, and sometimes mixed with pinto beans and cornbread to make them more tolerable for public consumption. Some mountain towns actually have Ramp Festivals and Celebrations in the spring each year. I actually attended a Ramp Convention in Haywood County, North Carolina in the 1970’s. They had a wild raw ramp eating contest. The winner (not me, I was just an innocent fan in the stands) was interviewed by the local TV station about what he was going to do with the prize money. He said he had already spent it… for his wife, mother-in-law and children to take a weekend trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. to get away from him a few days so they would not have to deal with the smell of the ramps he had eaten.
My friend, Donald Leatherwood helped cook the food for the monthly prayer breakfast I lead at our church. The group loved his gravy biscuits. After canvasing the group, a lot of people had never tasted ramps and were excited about trying them with eggs. Both Donald and I had eaten ramps and eggs before and didn’t have to deal with the odor. It sounded like a great idea and fun experience for the group.
I knew there must be a problem when I arrived early that morning in the church parking lot. I saw something I had never seen before or since…All the windows were raised in the building. As I got near the door, the strong scent of the ramps overtook me. Donald and I had decided to sautéed the ramps first before mixing them with the eggs to tone down the odor. We did not account for the odor from this process of sautéed ramps getting into the air conditioning duct system and recycle the fumes throughout the building…
It made a lasting impression upon our prayer group and anyone else who entered the church building for several days. You know, some days things just do not go as planned. Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself and the situations you experience. For me, I do that quite often. I am thankful for the love, forgiveness and understanding of my friends that day and we have laughed many times reminiscing about that gastronomical experience.