Merging Symbols, Space and Identity in Appalachia: An Examination of the Ramp
Rivers, Bridgette Colleen
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Over the past ten years, the ramp, a traditional Appalachian food, has invaded elite culinary circles outside its native culinary region of Appalachia. Ramps (Allium tricoccum) are wild leeks traditionally foraged for in the spring, and are known for their pungent smell. This unique vegetable is traditionally celebrated in Appalachia through dinners and festivals that have been widely attended by members of the community and recently, outsiders. Similarly, outside the region, the ramp has been featured on fine dining menus and has been sold in farmer's markets and grocery stores for the first time across the country. This study aims to understand not only this recent popularity, but why the ramp has emerged as representative of traditional Appalachian culture. Qualitative interviews with experts in the ramp industry, patrons of ramp festivals, and those outside of Appalachia yet involved with ramps were conducted. Participant observation at ramp festivals and analysis of questions posted on a ramp-based Facebook page corroborate our interview data set. Analysis of these data has uncovered the impact sense of place and rootedness in the Appalachian mountains has on identity creation through festival performance.
- Masters Theses