Wild Mushroom Hunt

This past August Willy and I heard from our friend Jivan that the mushrooms were a plenty in the mountains this season because of the wet year. We planned a day and Jivan took us under his wing. It is not a nonchalant endeavor, one has to be careful on what they pick, mushrooms range from cuisine delicacy to hallucinants to deadly. Jivan advised us to use a stick when probing something we were not sure of- never to touch it- and each time to get a new stick- because of the contaminate factor. Most deadly varieties grow under pine trees, except for oyster mushrooms and porcini/ boletes. The oyster mushroom grows right out of the bark of the pine tree. The chanterelle’s gather under the aspens usually as well as the hedge hogs. The day was a success, we did find chanterelle’s and my favorite, hedge hogs. Willy and I loved the hunt so much that we came back a week later on our own and found a lot more! This time around we met another hunter on the trail and decided to make some trades. Word of caution here- not always a good idea! He had a lot of boletes, and a mystery mushroom, which at the time we were not aware that it was in the bag with his boletes (poricini). We asked about the unknown variety he said he thought it was edible and that he was taking it to his friend to check out. We gave him some hedge hogs and chanterell’s and took some of his boletes. He gave us a demo on how to check the boletes if it was good, not old, invested with grubs. If there was some activity of grubs you can cut it out on the underside or if the trunk is hollow, it’s past its prime best not to eat it. We got home and sautéed them in butter and olive oil with pene and some reggiano. Delicious. Except later that evening Willy and I both felt very high and then knew it was that mystery mushroom that rubbed up against the other mushrooms in his bag! There is a saying, ‘There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters! It was a gentle warning on the power of mushrooms.