I’m working on a recipe for a ramp and cracked pepper flatbread. I planned to try a version with fried ramps compared to one with fresh whites and greens chopped finely and baked into the dough. It’s late in ramp season now, so the greens are foxed with yellowing edges. Many have been bruised by the weeks of pelting rains. I dug up a bunch with luminously fat bulbs, sliced then into little concentric circles and fried them – the same method I used for my recipe for crispy fried ramps. The result was a world apart.
In the pan the golden curls had me wishing, even before breakfast, that I had some calamari I could toss in for a version of fritto misto. They looked crispier, dryer and more intriguing than my efforts earlier this spring.
I waited until the whole batch was done and sprinkled with a pinch of sea salt to taste the first bite: the delicate ring on my tongue, crispy as a chip, followed by a rancorous wallop – having tipped over the edge of pleasurably bitter to acrid and unpleasant.
Lesson learned – at least when it comes to frying late season ramps – skip it. I have roasted, grilled and sautéed (and frozen) end of May ramps, all with good results. This year we had more rain, far less sun, and this may have impacted the flavor. But maybe it’s worth one more experiment next May.
During this 6-week ramp obsession I’ve neglected rhubarb, which has been ready to eat since Mayday, an omission to be corrected in coming posts.