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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Is Heralded By The Wild Leeks

Andrew Harris Blog: The true smells of spring

Daily Reporter
WELLSVILLE -The true arrival of spring for me is Allium tricoccum, better known as the wild leek or to foragers down south, the wild ramp. It’s a combination of the sight of a bright green patch of leeks against the brown forest floor and the smell of a recently thawed hillside that gives a defining sense that winter is over. Then of course the added bonus of having wild greens on the table in April which provides more flavor than some can handle.

These relatives of the onion have gotten a bad name over the years, mostly due to that uncle who doesn’t realize he has leek coming out of every pore for a week after the Legion’s annual dinner. Some people can eat leeks and not offend anyone at work the next day, others turn into walking leek bombs. For the sake of this ancient plants reputation leek eaters need to know which group they fall into. If you ‘hold your leeks’ like French perfume then it is only appropriate to only keep the company of fellow foragers this time of year. At the very least find the mouthwash that works best for you.

Ramps, as they are called in the Carolinas, deserve a better reputation. The earliest settlers of the Appalachians harvested leeks dating before the year 1500. Like their cousin garlic, wild leeks are full of vitamins A and C, and also contain allacin which promotes heart health. Research as has also found the existence of cancer inhibitors like quercetin and kaempferol. Considering they are also a natural source of fiber, folic acid, vitamins B6, manganese, and iron it could be argued that the pungent smells are well worth it!!

Besides all the great health benefits of eating the wonderful wild leek the most important is the spring air, sunshine, and a good walk in the woods. Find a good leek digging partner and go for it….Get stinky this year. Visit http://www.wellsvilledaily.com/lifestyle/food/x749197709/ANDREW-HARRIS-RECIPE-Wild-Rice-and-leek-pilaf and also visit http://www.wellsvilledaily.com/lifestyle/food/x749197713/ANDREW-HARRIS-RECIPE-Momofuku-s-Pickled-Wild-Leek-Ramp-Bulbs-Recipe for pictures and recipes!!!

PS. Anyone who really would like some leeks but can’t get out to dig get in touch with the author and I will grab you a bunch! ace@betterdayspub.com

This column re-published courtesy of the author.

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