My approach to Marquette on the Upper Peninsula was less than encouraging: fog, drizzle, temps in the forties. Might as well have been back in Seattle! But over a long weekend the state slowly and quietly began to reveal its charms to me. It must be a magical place to strap on the cross-country boards in winter. In spring, after a hard, snow-filled winter, the reawakening of the woods is palpable in a way that nearly overwhelms the senses. Warblers singing, wildflowers blooming, all sorts of trees leafing out against the backdrop of an azure sky.
ramp (Allium tricoccum). Everywhere you looked, you saw this wild gourmet delicacy, growing in enormous patches that carpeted the woods. You smelled them, too.
Feast of the Ramson in Richwood, West Virginia, where ramp culture reaches its zenith. In Northern Michigan, the ramp almost seems taken for granted, so common is it—and the locals are busy gearing up for morels anyway.
Hey, no problem. I'll pick a few of your ramps. They're a novelty for me since they don't grow west of the Great Plains. The picking is easy, if a bit tedious. The ramp bulbs are fairly shallow, though firmly rooted. After a soil-loosening rainstorm is a good time to go picking. You can use a shovel or iron to further loosen the dirt or even slide a finger down the stalk and into the ground. Ramps of good cooking size can be snapped by hand where the roots meet the bulb.
Once you get your catch home, wash the ramps under a tap and slide the outer membrane off the bulb. This will remove most of the dirt. Slice off dirt-encrusted roots with a paring knife.