Ramps, an edible member of the onion family, grow wild in the Appalachian region of East Tennessee – but just for a very short time in the spring.
Also known as wild leeks, ramps taste like a sweet green onion combined with a sharp, pungent flavor. In fact, they have a reputation for their strong odor, emitted when cooked, that makes the smell of onions and garlic seem mild in comparison.
You can eat both the white root and the broad green leaves of the ramp, which are commonly served stir-fried or sauteed with other seasonal produce. At the annual Ramp Tramp Festival, held the last weekend in April in between Benton and Reliance, visitors climb the Polk County hillsides to dig up fresh ramps, which are then fried with eggs and served with streaked meat, potatoes, white beans and cornbread – as well as live mountain music. Create a ramp recipe of your own or participate in a ramp-eating contest at the annual Ramp Fest in Flag Pond, Tennessee, held the second Saturday in May. And the Cosby Ramp Festival, held near Newport just outside of Knoxville, takes place on May 6.