Maybe the Best Thing I Learned This Summer

One June day, craving fruit, I stopped at a farm stand. It was a hot afternoon and the strawberries looked a little squishy, but the farmer seemed nice, so I wanted to buy something. I settled on a quart of chanterelle mushrooms.  I'm not sure I had ever had a wild mushroom. Upon closer examination of the fungi, though, I had the feeling I had seen them before, like recently, maybe while walking the dog in the woods behind our house.

As luck would have it, our friends Brian and Kasia were visiting that weekend. Kasia is from Poland, where apparently mushroom hunting is a national avocation. She is a mushroom queen. When we all went walking in the woods, I pounced on a little golden growth in the field at the top of the hill. "Not so fast," she cautioned, showing me how the ribs on the bottom of the cap stopped suddenly where the cap joined with  skinny stem. Not a chanterelle at all. Oh well.

Not yet, that is. For just a little way down the path, more apricot-colored fungi poked out of the forest undergrowth. These had thick stems with ribs partway down them. They smelled kind of sweet. And they were everywhere in this section of the woods. I took the bandanna off my head to collect them and soon ran out of room, so Fin took off his long-sleeved shirt and we loaded them into his shirt too. At various spots on the trail, Kasia the mushroom queen would pointedly detour. We'd follow her to whatever random mushroom den she had miraculously located with her eagle eye and collect them. When we got home, we had a huge pile of chanterelles! I did a spore print to make sure. We ate them the next day and didn't die. In fact, they were delicious.

2 1/2 pounds - we weighed them
There's a bolet in there too.
The rain and warm temperatures this summer made for good chanterelle foraging.I almost always find them the day after it rains. They're great with scrambled eggs. We ate them in burritos. We had them sauteed on the top of our special-occasion  steak.
Anniversary Dinner (mushrooms are romantic)
But my favorite way to eat chanterelles is also my new favorite quick dinner.

Poached Eggs with Sauteed Chanterelles, Onions,  and Greens
This meal is good with just greens, but mushrooms make it sublime.

Saute some onions in butter - you don't need too much, because the mushrooms make a lot of liquid - for a minute or two, then add the mushrooms. While they are cooking, boil water and pop some bread in the toaster. Crack your eggs into a bowl. That way if your yolk breaks you can save it for an omelette. When the mushrooms are cooked, slip the eggs into the boiling water one at a time. Add the greens to the frying pan and stir 'em around until they are wilted. I think three minutes makes the perfect poached egg. Butter your toast liberally. I am hooked on Cowbella butter, from Jersey cows on the other side of Schoharie County. Fresh-ground pepper and salt to taste.

I could eat it at least twice a week. Sadly, I think the season for chanterelles is coming to an end. If anyone knows another mushroom they'd like to teach me, I'd love to take you for a walk in the forest. In the meantime, thanks to Kasia the mushroom queen for teaching me the chanterelle!

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1 comment:

  1. Getting hungry for poached eggs and chanterelles...