Wednesday, May 29, 2013

mushroom dreams

I woke up this morning thinking about mushrooms. A couple of years ago while hiking the mountain on the south end of the island, we stumbled into a flush of morels. Unsure if that's what they were for certain, we took some photos and emailed them out to our forager friends. Quick responses assured us that yes, indeed, we had found real treasure. With my trusty Opinel knife in hand, I went back up the mountain the next day and harvested the delicate beauties. 

It's funny how once you adjust your eyes to something, you can see what was hidden before. Once I had the distinct gnome-like cap in my mind, it was easy to spot them amongst the forest duff. Even the sneaky ones couldn't hide.

Last year I went back to the same spot and there wasn't a morel to be found. They tend to grow in areas that have been disturbed, and what was a perfect habitat for them one year might not be the next. That won't stop me from looking, though. I'm a gatherer at heart, so even if I come home empty handed, I'll be glad for some time spent tromping around the forest.

That top photo ended up being published in my friend Jennifer Hahn's book, Pacific Feast: A Cook's Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine. I can highly recommend it; you can find it here. 

Happy hunting to any of you fellow foragers out there.


  1. I've never found (or even tried yet) a morel, though I know just what you mean about your eyes adjusting. It's such a neat experience to shift in that way. I picked Matsutakes for a season here one year, and learned to pick up the finest subtleties - just little bumps in the sand, a tiny crack in the duff. It's like a sense we rarely used becomes engaged. It was a little hard to shift out of that after a long season so focused.

    1. How cool that you picked for a whole season! I've never even tried a Matsutake, I'll have to do some research and see if they grow in my neck of the woods.