Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mushroom Hunting - Don't Try This at Home

It's nearly Winter, a season I eagerly look forward to. Winter marks the beginning of the rainy season in my home state of California. Within a few days of the first rain, countless little white or brown nubs can be seen emerging from the soil. For me, these fleeting little nubs, which eventually become thick-capped mature mushrooms, are hidden treasures, which literally emerge from nothing. They represent the mystery and splendor that nature possesses. I
spend a great deal of the Winter months scouring the landscape for these treasures. Mushroom hunting is a lot like mining for gold. A seemingly barren landscape can contain within it a hidden cache of rare, exquisite mushrooms, but one must look closely to spot them. Walking in the forest is incredibly exciting during this time of year - I'm always on the lookout for a rare mushroom that I've never seen before. I've never eaten any of the mushrooms I've found because of safety reasons; however, many serious and well-trained mycologists view mushroom hunting as a path to culinary mecca. Many scour the wet landscape for mushrooms rarely available in the supermarket and prized for their flavor such as the oyster, matsutake, chantrelle, morelle, and bolete. Needless to say they make a great holiday meal.

Bear in mind that mushroom hunting really is dangerous, even if you are well-trained and experienced. Aside from the notoriously deadly Amanita (death cap) mushrooms, many other mushrooms can cause gastrointestinal distress. So please, if you try this: look at, but don't eat the mushrooms!

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