Saturday, November 10, 2007

Foraying

So about six weeks ago we went on this gorgeous hike with the kids. On the way down I started noticing that there were mushrooms everywhere. Big ones, teeny ones, purple ones, red ones. Suddenly the thought occurred - how much fun would it be if I knew which ones to eat? I had just read a couple books that mentioned wild mushroom collecting in Europe & how they are eaten so often over there and I started dreaming of going out with the kids someday, treasure hunting & bringing home a wild feast. (for free!)

After the hike I sort of forgot about it until I saw a story in the paper about a mushroom show. I went, brought some mushrooms from my yard which were identified as edible "blewitts" and was hooked. (we won't discuss what happened when I tried to cook my blewitts for dinner one night and kyle realized I'd picked them from the yard where Roxxy roams. And yes, pees. But really, I am positive they weren't peed on. That's my delusion and I'm sticking to it.)

Now I am an official member of a mushroomers club, the one that put on the show. I attended my first meeting on thursday and well... I won't get into that either, except that a really really nice man spent 40 minutes talking about fungus that eat nemotodes. And showed at least 30 pictures (magnified) of mushroom mycellium catching them which basically was a bunch of fuzzy lines & shapes that were about as fascinating as a pile of my hair on the bathroom floor. I chose to leave before the follow-up 20 minute video presentation of a veritable slaughter of nematodes by angry mushrooms.

Almost put off, but not quite, I showed up this morning for my first mushroom foray with the club. Everything I had read says that you MUST go with experts for your first few mushroom hunts so that they can help you identify things. Just relying on book descriptions isn't the best way to do it. We had fun, although I didn't really get to see any of the ones I am hoping to find. (chanterelles, boletes & hedgehogs)

Now, you might expect that this mushrooming group would be a bunch of hippies & really funky people with lots of dreads, colorful clothing and body odor. You would be wrong. For some reason, I am drawn to hobbies that are predominated by people over the age of 50. At least 2/3 of the people there had gray hair and of the 25 or so who showed up ONE girl was within 10 years of my age. (My neighborhood gardening club is the same way - its me and a bunch of people 20-30 years older than me) Everyone was quite dignified but kind of geeky as they gleefully examined & discussed all the mushrooms. I fit right in.

Probably some of the people are grown old hippies, but the ones I talked to included a master bee keeper who is going to Rawanda to help with bee polination stuff and an ex-chef of a very esteemed anacortes restaurant who was cooking a bunch of the edible mushrooms we found on a propane burner. (she even had a european accent!) Then there was the lady who was at least 65 who was identifying all the mushrooms for us by their latin names. (there are over 1,000 mushrooms in the NW alone by the way)

Anyways, I am excited, mushrooms are fun, tasty and I surprised myself by loving the people who were into it.

3 comments:

Todd said...

Wow, that sounds really cool - but maybe I'm a 50-year-old hippie stuck in a younger body too.

Betsy and I both recently read "The Omnivore's Dilemma", and he spends a lot of time talking about mushroom foraging in that book, as well. Sounds really interesting.

Jenny said...

Yay for mushrooms..my Dad likes to go mushroom hunting by our cabin on Hood Canal. He often finds Chantrelles and Morels. Perhaps we could have your family down to enjoy the local finds. Last time I was there we had some yummy chantrelles sauteed and put in breakfast burritos!

I love your hobbies, btw. They're so unique! I'm proud of you for "going for it" with the mushroom club.

Tiffany said...

So after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, I really wanted to go mushroom hunting but got scared about poisoning us. How cool that you found a mushroom club! -- This summer I went to a book group through our church and all the other attendees were about 70. I loved it. The cool kids always hang out with the old folks, you know.