Ramps, chives, garlic, and other members of the Allium genus

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Four days ago, I had never even heard of "ramps" (in the sense of a vegetable), but on Friday the 26th, I had a great revelation.  That morning I went up to the Swarthmore COOP to replenish my larder, which had been pretty much emptied out before I left on a trip to Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.  Right while I was standing in the produce section contemplating whether to buy kale, baby bok choi, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, or some other vegetable, a lanky Irishman (I could tell from his accent) brought in two big bags of greens, the likes of which I'd never seen before.

Standing nearby was Ed, the knowledgeable head of our produce section.  I asked him what this mysterious vegetable was, and he said it is called "ramps", which is a kind of wild garlic.  Apparently it cannot be cultivated (or at least it is customarily not cultivated), and it is only available for six weeks in the spring.  So I came back from my travels at just the right time!

The tall Irishman had gotten the ramps from a farmer-gatherer named Frank who lives about 30 miles west of Swarthmore.  Frank also supplies the COOP with regular garlic and heirloom tomatoes at other times during the year.

This is a real boon for me (a veritable garlic freak) — to come back just when ramps are in season.

I thought that I had made a great discovery, but lo and behold, when I started telling people about ramps, it transpired that they have become quite the rage.  You might say that all of a sudden there has been a ramping up of ramps!

One friend informed me that, just the night before, she herself had heard of ramps for the first time when she dined at the Cheu Noodle Bar in South Philadelphia.

Sure enough, the menu has ramp kimchi and ramp dumplings, and apparently they use ramps in other dishes as well.  But I was dubious that they were really serving true ramps for several reasons.  First of all, ramps are expensive and there is only a limited supply, since they have to be gathered in the woods.  Another reason for my suspicion was that the Cheu Noodle Bar is clearly an Asian-inspired eating establishment, with plenty of fusion dishes being offered.  I guessed that they might actually be serving jiǔcài 韭菜, which is a kind of chive (see below for the precise terms of all the Allium species mentioned in this post) that is very popular in Chinese cooking though notoriously difficult to translate into English, but calling it ramp, either through exoticism or not being able to find the right word in English for this Chinese vegetable.

I decided to go down to Cheu Noodle Bar the next day and try out this new restaurant for myself as well as determine whether they were using true ramps or jiǔcài 韭菜 in their recipes.  It turns out that they were indeed using true ramps in a number of their dishes.  The food, by the way, was both distinctive and delicious.

Once my eyes were open to them, ramps were showing up everywhere, including in the New York Times (4/26/13):  "In the Ramp Debate, He’s a ‘Yea’"

"Ramps" (the vegetable!) has now become a part of my vocabulary, and I shall be looking forward to tasting their sweet, succulent, garlicky flavor every spring around this time.

Just to sort things out nomenclaturally, ramp (Allium tricoccum) is a type of spring onion, wild leek, or wild garlic (it has many other names in various dialects; up close it looks more leek-like than garlic-like) that grows wild from South Carolina to Quebec.

Chinese jiǔcài 韭菜, which I also love, may be referred to as garlic chives or Chinese chives (Allium tuberosum).  I used to grow them in a barrel in my backyard.  One neat thing about jiǔcài 韭菜 is that you can cut off the tops with a pair of scissors and they'll grow right back.  So, from a single packet of seeds, you can have jiǔcài 韭菜 for many months.

Chives proper (Allium schoenoprasum) are much more delicate and dainty, adding a more subtle spice to one's cooking.  I sometimes find chives growing amidst the grass in people's yards, where it had perhaps escaped from gardens nearby.

Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) are less favored in my kitchen, because I view them as a sort of cross between onions and the other Allium species mentioned in this post, while having the pure virtues of none of them, and also, quite frankly, because I haven't come across many good recipes that call for leeks.

I won't enter here into the wonders of the bulb onion or common onion  (Allium cepa) in all of its countless varieties, but will only state that it is a staple in my household, and I like onions both cooked and uncooked.

My uncontested favorite of all the Allium species, however, is garlic (Allium sativum).  I always carry a liberal supply of garlic with me when I go on expeditions and trips to difficult environments, because I have found that it seems to act as a sort of bactericide when I start to develop stomach or intestinal problems, and cures all sorts of other ailments.  In general, eating lots of fresh garlic gives me a sense of well-being, though I must admit that it also keeps people at a safe distance.

A closing note:  all of these pungent vegetables were frowned upon by the Buddha.  Consequently, though I teach Buddhism, I would make a very bad Buddhist, since I relish each and every one of them.

[Thanks to Michael Carr, June Teufel Dreyer, and Paula Roberts]

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58 Comments »

  1. Laura Brown said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

    They've been a staple of West Virginia cooking for a very long time. I grew up in W.Va. and was surprised when I learned that people from outside the region had never heard of them.

  2. peaseblossom said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

    You didn't mention garlic scapes, which are another allium-related spring delicacy. If you love garlic, you should definitely seek some out.

  3. sister_ray said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

    Then there is also allium ursinum or bears leek which seems similar to ramps.

  4. Ray Girvan said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

    That word takes me back. I first ran into it in my early teens in RA Lafferty's 1968 A Space Chantey, an Odyssey retelling. There's a section which sentient sheep are described as eating

    foul vegetables, leeks and ramps and strong gross turnips, and rank things that were very earthy but not of old Earth.

    The word stuck in my mind for some reason.

    According to the OED, Allium tricoccum is the US meaning, and the UK usage refers to a related species not so far mentioned, Allium ursinum.

  5. John Wells said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

    "Ramps" is cognate with the "ramsons" that grow wild in Britain, Allium ursinum. See the OED, which says that it is US, chiefly east midland and southeast.

  6. Bob Shackleton said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

    And most wonderfully, we have here the English descendant of the original Indo-European word for onion (*krem-) – one of the few surviving relatives of Greek 'kromion'! But let's hope ramps don't become too popular: As I understand it they're farily widely incorrectly harvested, so don't ever buy them with the roots attached.

  7. Matt Craddock said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

    They're Allium ursinum/wild garlic/ramsons version are called bärlauch (bear leeks) here in Germany. They absolutely carpet the woodland, so it's easy to go out and pick as much as you want; and everywhere is selling food with them in at the moment!

  8. James-Henry Holland said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

    I've heard that "rapunzel" is German for ramp. In the Grimm's fairly tale by that name, it's the mother's craving for ramps, which were growing in the neighbor witch's garden that sets the tale in motion… and the girl who is born is named Rapunzel.

    I have also heard that the English word "rampion" is what rapunzel is…

    I wouldn't be surprised if a folk tale is encumbered with a folk etymology ;)

  9. I from WV said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

    [To Laura Brown, above]: Wikipedia lists a number of WV's ramp festivals. I grew up around them, but occasionally I'll have to explain now that I've left the state. (For a related phenomenon, see pepperoni rolls.)

    In Charleston, WV, I knew a group of adults who volunteered to help the local Boy Scout council. The "Ramp Patrol' (named analogous to the "patrols" that make up a Boy Scout "troop") doesn't seem to have any web presence, but they're mentioned briefly in this obituary. Apparently Victor Mair isn't the only one who admires this noble vegetable.

  10. Robert Coren said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

    "from a single packet of seeds, you can have jiǔcài 韭菜 for many months."

    Or for many years. They're perennial, and tend to be invasive.

  11. Brian said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

    "I haven't come across many good recipes that call for leeks"

    For the love of God, no one tell him about French cuisine.

  12. William Berry said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

    In the original of one of Grimm's Fairy Tales (It might be "Rumpelstiltzkin"), there is a character who craves a dish of "rampion", which she can see growing in a nearby garden. I always assumed that "ramp", or "ramps", was a shortened version of "rampion", but evidently not. Turns out that rampion is a species of wildflower with a starchy edible root.

    Oh well, learn something new every day, I guess.

  13. Howard Oakley said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

    When you are next in the UK, you should take a trip over to the Isle of Wight. For in the Arreton Valley, in the agricultural heart of the Island, you will find the Garlic Farm, which is still I believe the largest garlic producer in the whole of Europe. I live just a few miles from that valley, and the farm offers a specialist garlic restaurant which serves delicacies such as Elephant Garlic, the chance to buy from its wide range of varieties, and some unusual derivatives such as garlic beer!
    In recent years, the surrounding area has also become a major producer of specialist tomatoes, and of chilli peppers…
    Howard.

  14. Ed Rorie said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

    Chop up some leeks and put em in a quiche. You won't be sorry.

  15. MonkeyBoy said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

    "I sometimes find chives growing amidst the grass in people's yards, where it had perhaps escaped from gardens nearby."

    Are you sure? What I normally see in lawns etc. I think is Allium vineale (wild garlic) which while looking chive like has a more rank taste.

  16. Sili said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

    "Ramps" is cognate with the "ramsons" that grow wild in Britain, Allium ursinum. See the OED, which says that it is US, chiefly east midland and southeast.

    Ah. I assumed this had something to do with Danish "ramsløg", which is indeed Allium ursinum.

  17. David said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

    Allium ursinum is called "ramslök" in Swedish. ("Lök", 'onion', is of course cognate with "leek".) Hellquist (1922) in his "Svensk etymologisk ordbok" (the standard reference work in the field, see http://runeberg.org/svetym/0713.html), links the word to English "ramsons", Greek "króm(m)yon", Lithuanian "kermùszé" and Irish "crem", but speculates that the word, while obviously of PIE ancestry, is originally a loan from a non-PIE language into PIE.

  18. Jon said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

    Howard: I was given a bottle of that Isle of Wight garlic beer. When we had some friends round, I shared it out between 8 of us. Nobody finished their tot. It was one of the foulest things I have ever tasted. And I like garlic. And the beer was within 'use by' date.

  19. marie-lucie said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

    Leek and potato soup is a staple in French family cooking. Boiled or steamed leeks can be served hot as a side dish, plain or in a white sauce, or cold as a salad. Cooked leeks have a slightly slippery texture (like scallions near the bulb), and cutting them requires a sharp knife.

    Rampion : not knowing the term, I looked it up on Wikipedia to find the French equivalent: la raiponce, a word I had seen but I had no idea about what plant it represented. Indeed I had seen the plant many times in gardens, but had no idea the root was edible.

    The *rap- root has a number of derivatives, and it seems that one of them is Rapunzel, one of many instances of female names taken from flower names. If so, raiponce may have been borrowed from the Germanic ancestor of the name, before the diminutive ending was added to make a name.

  20. Christopher Cieri said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

    I've always wanted to go to one of the ramp festivals that they hold in WV, SC and TN. They make me think of the Italian sagra (annual festivals typically connected to some local food at its harvest time) that I also always manage to miss when I'm there.

  21. Francesca said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

    Apparently allium ursinum, aglio orsino in Italian, owes its name to bears because when they come out of hibernation they eat it to cleanse their bodies.

  22. Jeroen Mostert said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

    I have this theory (naive and uninformed) that the names for plants and vegetables are the last thing most foreign speakers will pick up in a language. Unless you are botanically or culinarily inclined, you just won't come across them often enough. To make it worse, the names are a complete hodgepodge of randomness within and across languages.

    As it so happens, the genus Allium is rather regular in Dutch: the genus itself is "look", with such members as "bieslook" (chives), "knoflook" (garlic) en "daslook" (bear's leek). Leek, look, see? (Pun unintentional.) But the leek itself (Allium ampeloprasum) is "prei". Of course. I have on occasion seriously considered just memorizing the binomial names and using them consistently, regardless of language or occasion. Point in case: Allium tricoccum has no common Dutch name, which makes sense given its distribution.

  23. CuConnacht said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

    I don't think Rapunzel was used as a name outside the story. It was Rapunzel's pregnant mother who carved the rampion (or perhaps the Valerianella locusta, which you may know as mâche, lamb's lettuce, or corn salad, and which can also be called rapunzel) growing in the witch's walled garden. When the witch catches the husband stealing the rampion, she agrees to let him go only if he promises her his unborn child, which is how Rapunzel gets her name and ends up in the witch's tower.

  24. maidhc said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

    Gilroy, California, has a large annual Garlic Festival. Products such as garlic wine and garlic ice cream are available. I tried the garlic wine — it was horrible, but it might be acceptable for making spaghetti sauce.

    Just driving through Gilroy you can notice the air is thick with the scent of garlic.

  25. Victor Mair said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

    @maidhc

    Reminds me of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, the mushroom capital of the world. The air is redolent of musty, damp, decaying straw — or so it seems to me.

  26. AntC said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 7:24 pm

    Etymology of garlic is Old English spear+leek. Spear [cognate with German Ger] because of the shape of the buds when they bolt.

  27. marie-lucie said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

    CuConnacht, thank you for those precisions. I did not mean to imply that Rapunzel was used as a name apart from the context of the story, only that -el seemed to be a derivational suffix.

    Looking up raiponce again on Wikipedia, I see that the Rapunzel of the story is called Raiponce in French, just like the plant. Having only read Grimm's stories in English, I did not know the equivalent French name.

    As for the origin of the French word, the TLFI (French online dictionary) gives raiponce as basically a borrowing from an Italian word attested as raponzo, raponzolo, raperonzolo, from Latin raponciolum (but the Latin word could be a learned reformation based on one of the Italian forms). The suffix -onz- seems to be unexplained in Italian, so the apparently basic word raponzo could be an adaptation of a word from another language, perhaps a Germanic one such as rapunze, the presumed stem of Rapunzel.

  28. Bruce said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 9:16 pm

    Yep – we have jiucai that escaped the garden and found a home for itself in the narrow cracks between our garden steps.

    I learned 'ramp' from Jack Vance novels, in descriptions like

    "The banquet proceeded. The first course, a mince of olives, shrimp and onions baked in oyster shells with cheese and parsley was followed by a soup of tunny, cockles and winkles simmered in white wine with leeks and dill. Then, in order, came a service of broiled quail stuffed with morels, served on slices of good white bread, with side dishes of green peas; artichokes cooked in wine and butter, with a salad of garden greens; then tripes and sausages with pickled cabbage; then a noble saddle of venison glazed with cherry sauce and served with barley first simmered in broth, then fried with garlic and sage; then honey-cakes, nuts and oranges; and all the while the goblets flowed full with noble Voluspa and San Sue from Watershade, along with the tart green muscat wine of Dascinet.”

  29. Rohan F said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

    "Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) are less favored in my kitchen"

    You're eating the wrong kind of A. ampeloprasum, then. The domestic leek, A. ampeloprasum var. porrum is a vegetable I don't mind, but could take or leave. But there's another variety of this botanical species, A. ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum. That's the strikingly-named elephant garlic (sometimes called Russian garlic), which is my very favourite allioid vegetable. Its flavour is much closer to true garlic than to the leek, but is slightly milder and less pungent. Elephant garlic can be used raw as a salad ingredient, for instance, where raw garlic is too strong to be used as much more than a garnish. It also roasts beautifully. It's hard to get hold of, is the only problem with it.

  30. Alexander said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

    In Philadelphia ramps have long been sold (during the season) at Reading Terminal Market, not just at the smaller farmers markets.

  31. Faith said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

    DON'T. LIKE. LEEKS? Sweet humpbacked Jesus, as they say in Nova Scotia, we need to save this man from himself. Take the top and bottom off a few leeks, slice in half lengthwise, wash thoroughly. Put in a roasting pan with a head of garlic, divided into bulbs but not peeled. Toss in olive oil. Roast for 40 minutes at 400F.

  32. Elizabeth said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 10:14 pm

    You might also enjoy lily bulbs, if you haven't tried those. My favorite preparation is in black bean chicken, but they're used in many Chinese soups.

  33. Victor Mair said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

    From John Colarusso:

    Ramps are great in the garden for keeping insect pests away. Our gardens (4 of them) have a profusion of this garlic-like plant at this time of year. If they mature, they produce this beautiful bulb-like seed pod at the end of a long straight shoot that curls 360° just below the pod. Very elegant looking!

  34. Lars Clausen said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 2:06 am

    Leeks less favorite? Are you crazy? They're almost as versatile as onions, but without the strong smell and eye-watering issues. Sauteed, they can be used as filler in just about any vegetable dish, and also work fantastic in quiches and omelets on their own. Not to mention in the classic bubble-and-squeak (which rhymes nicely).

    Just never, ever, boil them. Like onions, they should be properly caramelized.

    And it's one of the national symbols of Wales, as seen on their £1-coins.

  35. Paulus said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 2:45 am

    "Bärlauch", or wild garlic, is all the rage in the German organic-food movement. I'm not clear whether this is the same as ramps. In any case, here it is often used to make pesto, for better or worse.

    While I feel wild garlic is overused here, I cannot get enough of leeks. Try this recipe for an excellent and simple take on fried rice made with leeks.

  36. Adam Funk said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 3:57 am

    Tamarack is a shopping centre on I-64 (I think) in West Virginia that specializes in local goods & crafts. It sells a wide range of foodstuffs with ramps. I liked everything I tried except the ramp-flavoured wine.

  37. Bill W said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 7:06 am

    "'Lök', 'onion', is of course cognate with 'leek'."

    And also Russian "luk", "onions"?

    Doesn't the Jain religion also avoid onions and garlic? The Indian vegetarian restaurants I've frequented have a special section on the menu for dishes without those vegetables.

  38. Piotr Gąsiorowski said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 8:00 am

    "Ramps" is new to me, but I've eaten it quite a few times as "ramson(s)" or "czosnek niedźwiedzi" (= 'bear garlic' in my native Polish). Come to think of it ramps is the regular development of OE hram(e)sa, hram(e)se (the gender varied in OE). Ramson comes from the weak-noun plural hram(e)san, and ramsons is etymologically a double plural like children.

  39. NotJohn said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    I was walking through a clump of Allium Ursinum yesterday with my brother, who lives in the Pyrenées. He immediately identified them as ail des ours. They are ramsons to me.

  40. Ben said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    "…a lanky Irishman (I could tell from his accent)": You could hear that he was lanky? Now that's a linguist!

    One of the theories of the etymology of Chicago (though not uncontroversial) is that it refers to Allium tricoccum.

  41. Ray Girvan said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 8:33 am

    One for the road: Allium triquetrum (aka Three-Cornered Leek). It's not much liked in the UK, as it can be majorly invasive in gardens, but we have an isolated potted garden on the street, where it can't escape, and it does make a very pretty white-flowering plant in Spring.

  42. Robert Coren said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 9:50 am

    @Bruce: I note that in the Jack Vance quotation you provided, although the alliums are represented in three of the seven courses, there is no actual mention of ramps.

  43. E W Gilman said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 10:34 am

    When I was a boy in NJ many years ago, we kids found chives commonly in the grass of yards,

  44. Rosie Redfield said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

    The only problem with leeks is that they sometimes contain hidden grit.

    Lay them in a shallow dish with lots of butter and leave them in a medium oven until they're toasty on the edges and creamy soft everywhere else. Yum!

  45. Stuart said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

    @Bill W: I believe the Jain proscription is against any vegetable that has to be pulled from the ground because the pulling is likely to kill soil-borne insects.

    I used to have a leek cookbook entitled, "First You Take a Leek".

    Is 韭菜 the same as Japanese 韮 (にらnira)?

  46. marie-lucie said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

    leeks … sometimes contain hidden grit.

    Yes, that's why you should slice them lengthwise and wash them before cooking.

  47. Tom said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

    I want to second what Monkey-Boy said. The "chives" seen growing naturalized in lawns, etc. are not likely to be true chives. It's much more likely to be Allium vineale, often called Field Garlic or Wild Garlic. The plant is well known, though not well-liked, by farmers because cows feeding on it give milk with a garlicky taste.

  48. julie lee said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

    From Wikipedia, the scallion, also an onion:
    "The words scallion and shallot are related and can be traced back to the Greek askolonion as described by the Greek writer Theophrastus. This name, in turn, seems to originate from the name of the town of Ashkelon."

  49. Ken Brown said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

    Chop your leek. Wash it. Put the bits in a saucepan with some butter. While its cooking chop an onion. Add it to the pan. While its cooking peel and chop garlic and add that. Chop some chives and add them with a little salt and grind in some black pepper. All to taste. Almost cover with water, bring to the boil, and eat with the thick slices of wholemeal toast you remembered to put on just before you put the chives in.

    Four Allium stew. Takes 10-15 minutes. Lovely and leeky.

  50. Richard said,

    May 1, 2013 @ 12:26 am

    @Bill W: and also, I believe, the '-lic' in garlic

  51. Victor Mair said,

    May 1, 2013 @ 5:17 am

    From Matt Anderson:

    When my wife was here with me in Shanghai, I unsuccessfully tried to describe jiucai to her when we were ordering at a Northeastern-style restaurant, before just saying, you'll like it. When the jiucai & egg jiaozi (dumplings) arrived, she said, O, it's Chinese chives (a term I'm not sure I knew).

  52. Bill Benzon said,

    May 1, 2013 @ 10:14 am

    The New York Times ramps up:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/dining/the-fragrant-trendy-ramp-makes-a-delightful-addition-to-dishes.html?src=dayp

  53. Lindig said,

    May 1, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

    The 79th annual ramp festival will be taking place this coming weekend (5/5) over in Waynesville, not too far from Asheville NC. There'll be clogging, too. And we have wild leeks growing in the backyard already.

  54. Adam Funk said,

    May 2, 2013 @ 7:25 am

    I just spotted this grilled ramps recipe in the Collegiate Times (Blacksburg, VA).

  55. RMS said,

    May 2, 2013 @ 9:25 am

    A minor quibble: Cheu Noodle Bar is at 255 S. 10th Street, which places it in Center City, not South Philly.

  56. V said,

    May 2, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

    ""Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) are less favored in my kitchen"

    You're eating the wrong kind of A. ampeloprasum, then. The domestic leek, A. ampeloprasum var. porrum is a vegetable I don't mind, but could take or leave. But there's another variety of this botanical species, A. ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum. That's the strikingly-named elephant garlic (sometimes called Russian garlic), which is my very favourite allioid vegetable."

    It also depends, I suspect on whether it was summer or winter A. ampeloprasum var. porrum. The pictures of that varietal that I've seen in English language sources look short and very dark green, and with more branching leaves, rather than staying together as a cylinder. That must be summer A. ampeloprasum var. porrum (I also once saw someone mention that Bulgarian leeks seem smaller, but they must have been confused, or had summer leeks, which are a but uncommon here — Bulgarian A. ampeloprasum var. porrum are usually very long and uncomfortable to carry in a bag unless cut in half, so :shrug: ). In the Bulgarian wikipedia, they specify that summer leeks are shorter and not so strong in taste. Your mention of elephant garlic sometimes being called Russian garlic is interesting, because Siberian лук in Bulgarian refers to chives.

    Also, in Bulgarian, like in German as many people mentioned, wild garlic or bear лук (лук can refer to any Allium but usuallly refers to Allium cepa, which also has other more specific names) is Allium ursinum and friends of mine regularly go out to the forest to forage for it this time of the year, like apparently it's also popular in Germany. Not to Allium vineale or Allium triquetrum like some others said (and one other poster mentioned that where he's from Allium vineale is called Field Garlic or Wild Garlic, and wikipedia has Allium oleraceum for Field Garlic).

  57. Gou Tongzhi said,

    May 5, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

    This blog was the first time I saw the word "ramps" used for a vegetable, and suddenly here it is in another context.

    Synchronicity!

    http://www.theawl.com/2013/05/eight-great-things-to-eat-in-spring-that-are-definitely-not-ramps

  58. Johanne D said,

    May 8, 2013 @ 7:24 am

    It's called ail des bois in Québec (ttp://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_tricoccum)

    It's a vulnerable species and there are rules for its harvesting. "Ne collecter qu'une feuille par bulbe. (…) Ne pas cueillir les plus gros plants, ils assurent la reproduction par leur fleur, les graines et/ou la division de leur bulbe."

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