May twelfth was the twenty-seventh annual Flag Pond Ramp Festival, but it was my first time attending. They didn't establish the festival until I was a (very young) teenager, so it's not anything my parents would have taken me to as a child. Plus, while I'm technically a Unicoi county native (since all people in Unicoi county not born at home are born in Johnson City/Washington county, TN hospitals), I'm not eager to claim that identity. Oh, it's complicated and suitable for another type of blog, but not this one. And since it's one of those things that kind of happens in my back yard it doesn't seem exotic enough to capture my interest, so I've never been. Also, I asked one my of friends in the know whether it was any account. He said to skip it. Since I delayed in getting tickets to the Lake Eden shindig, we ended up at the Ramp Festival instead and that worked out just as well.
Would have written about the ramp festival experience while it was fresher in my memory except that Ian had a gallbladder depositing us at the ER early Sunday morning (the thirteenth) and I sat at his hospital bedside all week comforting him and blogging was not a priority.
Nonetheless, the ramp festival was worth the $7 I paid for a plate of the best eating I'd had in a great while. I think that if Ian had made it home from work in time to come to the ramp festival with us and had eaten ramps, he wouldn't have had the gallbladder attack. Oh, the power of the ramp.
Funny, that at my age (40) I had never eaten a ramp. Since they became all the rage in the big city, I have even less desire to eat something so trendy. It's just the way I am, the anti-trendy. My grandfather and I hunted them on several occasions in the forests of Tennessee and North Carolina. He knew several patches. And undoubtedly he offered them to me, but I declined.
As did Elsa when I offered them to her. Folks who eat raw ramps are shunned. The odor is offensive, you see. My father-in-law mentioned that when he was in the reserves that the ramp-eaters were obvious from the non-ramp-eaters. But, cooked ramps are tender and subtle as -- gee-- a communion wafer.
Elsa is not an adventurous eater. We goad her into trying new things. Ironically she loves soup beans, a food I avoided as a child. We shared a plate. She ate the beans and nibbled the cornbread. My potatoes were half and half: half cooked with ramps and half plain; Elsa ate some of the plain. Both were delicious as they were seasoned with bacon fat.
She saw the skillet/pile of bacon as we edged through the line and trilled "Bacon... I love bacon..." and the kindly man in charge of the bacon area slipped her two pieces before we received our plate and our serving of bacon.
Seating was limited, so we wandered everywhere before landing on the steps outside the cafeteria. The festival was held in the former Flag Pond elementary school building. Fortunately we weren't too much in the way. Elsa was happy. She made a craft, swang on the swings, and played on the playground. She made friends with the people who stood around us in line. Everyone loves a toddler, especially when she shouts out "My Daddy works in Carolina." And then acts all shy when they try to make further conversation with her. Chatting with folks at festivals is always fun. I absorbed information about ramps being early this year, and even earlier over in North Carolina.
Ramp festival next year? Sure thing!