Right here in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains we are blessed with an abundance of natural products foraged from our own backyards, including ramps, morels, chanterelle mushrooms, cauliflower mushrooms, and wild berries.
Deep in our woods, even before the grass begins to green, our culinary adventure begins. Morel mushrooms are collected from under stands of conifers and in the hollows. Following the first spring rains, ramps are one of the first patches of green on the mountainside. An edible member of the onion family, the ramp is alternately called the wild leek, taking its name from a similar plant, the rampion, which also has a fleshy tap-root. Believing the ramp to possess the revitalizing power of a spring tonic, the mountain folks looked forward to the return of the ramp after a winter of eating mostly dried foods. The ramp's flavor, though sweet with a hint of garlic, is accompanied by a potent odor. Home-cured bacon, ramps and this morning's eggs from our hens - simple and unsurpassed indulgence.
As the days of summer lengthen the Chanterelles, Black Trumpets, and myriad varieties of boletes are everywhere. So common as to allow picking only the freshest, perfectly shaped of the variety. We continue searching until only Hedgehog mushrooms remain on the creeksides, all the while watching the Paw Paws come close and closer to ripeness. Paw Paws first and then Persimmons, wild crabapples, wild muscadines, huckleberries, and on and on until, well, we come back to morels.