Leeks look like a huge green onion, or scallion, and are liberally sprinkled throughout a history of thousands of years which likely originated in Central Asia. Later they evolved to being highly favored by the Egyptians, the Romans and the Turks. Even Nero and Aristotle have been linked to leek history. A leek is also the official emblem of the Welch nation. These days, with less fame, people in the U.S. tend to link leeks to dishes like Cock-a-Leekie Soup and Vichyssoise, a potato soup.
Leeks are related to garlic, onions and green onions, and they distinguish themselves by being uniquely subtle, even a bit musky, with a “well developed” onion flavor. Ramps are wild leeks and smaller.
With an interesting layered structure which harbors sand from the soil they grow in, leeks must be cut open, flushed and washed until the tap water runs clear. Though they are troublesome to clean, they are well worth it for their distinctness. Unfortunately, markets charge for leeks by the pound and make you take a large part of the leek you will not use. It is the upper part which is usually tough and not appetizing. Continue reading