Chp 1. Mushrooms
The first time I ever foraged wild mushrooms was up at my dad’s house in Willow Creek CA. I, perhaps much like you, had always understood in some peripheral way that wild mushrooms come from the woods. They are called wild, and therefore not cultivated. It follows that something that is not cultivated needs to be found, so someone must do the finding. If asked, I would have given that reply. Who these unseen seekers were, where they did their seeking, who they did if for, how they learned, who they sold mushrooms to when found, were all a mystery. In northern California, these questions are not so academic. Mushrooms are everywhere. Boletes, Black trumpets, Morel, Chanterelle, Yellow foot, Hedgehog (so named for their spiky underside), Matsutake, Snaggle tooth….that last ones a joke, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that as a local name for some under-appreciated fungus. The mushrooms I mentioned are only a fraction of what is bought for retail sale, and mushrooms for retail sale are only a fraction of edible fungus that’s out in the woods. There are many others that aren’t available in stores. Mycophobia (fear of mushrooms) runs deep in our culture, so people are not too keen to try a fungus that isn’t already popular. Although I for one disagree with much of the hype around mushroom danger (many more people die from eating eggs every year), there are mushrooms that shouldn’t be eaten. The death cap is one such mushroom. Small, white, unassuming, the death cap purportedly has a mild sweet taste (this from those that have eaten it and survived). Eating half of one mushroom can kill you. TBC….