Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mushroom Nation

Surprised myself by purchasing a half pound of Hen of the Woods mushrooms for a small fortune last Saturday (would post price but I have blocked it out) at the Madura Farms stand at the Cortelyou Farmer's market, swept away by the breadth of friendly myco-farmer Dan's knowledge of the medicinal value of the Mitakes. Someday it would be great to go visit his farm in Goshen, but most likely I wouldn't be allowed into the fan ventilated dark rooms where these beauties grow on piles of sterilized wheat straw.

The slightly intimidating clumps of the Hen of the Woods (top) break easily into sections reminiscent of broccoli florets, and sauteed in olive oil, basil, garlic, shallots, white wine and a bit of butter, then served over whole wheat pasta, nearly inspired tears of joy. How can it be that I haven't had that kind of good in so long? Oh yeah, I know, it's because I'm cheap.

For future adventures maybe I'll buy the slightly less expensive yellow and grey oyster mushrooms, although it's hard to pay for that which I've collected for free near my father's house in Virginia. Years ago I found white ones growing in a crag on a cliff and breaded them. My step mother's mother was there, and being a sweet, polite woman she graciously accepted her serving, and then, being a cautious, sensible woman, headed outside to chuck it in the grass. I don't blame her, how would she know I know my oysters?