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VFW ‘ramping’ it up with special onion dinner

PROCTORVILLE — They’ve got a fancy Latin name — allium tricoccum — and an odor that could knock an elephant flat.

But if you love the oniony, garlicky taste of wild leeks, aka ramps, you’re in luck. And you don’t have to travel all the way to Richwood, W.Va., to quench your culinary thirst.

Starting at 11 a.m. Saturday the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW Post 6878 in Proctorville will host its 20th Annual Ramp Dinner at the post home.

Ramps are members of the onion family and are found in groups with light green leaves and a scallion-like bulb. Both the lower leaf stalks and green leaves, as well as the onion-part, are edible.

“You cook with them like you do onions,” according to Jane Napier of the Proctorville auxiliary. “We cook brown and white beans and put them in it. And we serve fried potatoes and cole slaw.”

Ramp connoisseurs are noted for their pilgrimage to West Virginia where April is the month for the annual “Feast of the Ramson,” sponsored by the National Ramp Association.

Historically the ramp, rich in selenium and sulfur, was part of the Appalachian diet with mountain folk believing it had medicinal properties.

But Richwood has nothing on the eastern part of Lawrence County. The VFW’s ramp dinner draws visitors from across the central part of the state.

“People come from all over,” Napier said.

Since ramps are in the wild, the VFW is dependent on a little help from some friends to get the main course ready for the stove..

“They have to go out and dig them every year,” Napier said. “A guy will call and say it’s time to pick ramps.”

Ramp digging happened on Thursday as post members went out to the county to pull up the tulip bulb-shaped onions.

Besides a hot meal with ramps, bunches of the raw vegetable will also be available for purchase.

The ramp dinner is Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for children who are 10 and under.