Memories and Inspiration for Food, Travel and Life
One thing I have always wanted to do, but never felt safe doing, was go foraging for mushrooms in the wild. In the USA I have never lived near an area where you could just go for a walk and find these delicacies, luckily where my husbands mother lives is perfect for this. Her house backs up to a forest, where we wondered for hours looking for wild cèpes.
The first thing I discovered is that there are more than one variety of cèpe, or porcini in Italy.
The one typically found in markets is the ‘Bordeaux’ cèpe, with it’s thick, white stem and brown cap.
In this area we also found many with reddish-brown stems, darker caps, and green ‘mousse’ under the cap, which I think we’re called ‘forest’ cèpe.
I’ll be honest, if anyone needed someone to find cèpe for them, I was the worst at finding them by far. My husbands brother could ‘smell’ them, or so he said, and his basket came back fairly full so I’ll trust him!
You may find worms in them, but my mother-in-law said to just heat them and the worms come out. You can also apparently stand them on end to let the worms find their way out or pick them out manually. However, they are not dangerous to eat so don’t worry if you ingest some.
My husbands step-father was a pharmacist and said it was common in the countryside for people who had foraged for mushrooms to bring them to their pharmacist for identification. He went through our find to make sure all were edible.
He also lent me a mushroom identification book which I have been enjoying as there were so many varieties we saw that day.
Including, the notorious red cap with white dots, amanita muscaria, which is poisonous and can cause hallucinations or death.
There is something really satisfying about going out into nature and gathering your food, something I think most of us feel very distant from. I had asked my friend at Creeksong Farm in NC if I could help with the chickens next time (still not sure I’m ready for it) but, I think if you will eat it you should be willing to kill it….or forage for it.