Yesterday I fulfilled my foraging instinct at Goodwill with $4 sweaters; today, more wholesomely, I headed back to a Madison-area forest. An hour in, I had confirmed that the edges of young dryad’s saddles taste, oddly, like cucumber; I had collected quite a few little brown mushrooms, Coprinus and friends, to mull over later, if not eat. But I wasn’t finding anything for dinner, or anything new or strange.
Instead of despairing, I stopped to eat lunch. And just as with fishing, stopping to eat or pee is virtually a surefire way to find what you’re looking for.
Darling, sweetie-pie, sugar-muffin, love-spud honey mushrooms. Armillaria somethingoruther.
Not everyone loves them, but W. and I deemed them Most Delicious Fungus in a saute dominated by hedgehogs and chicken-o’-woods the other day. [Correction: W. says I made that up. It was true for me, anyway. Keep me on the straight and narrow, baby.
Despite the confusion and variation in Armillaria species, plus the fact that these look little like the ones in my book (George Barron’s Mushrooms of Northeast North America), I’m certain about them because the good fungus experts of the Wisconsin Mycological Society showed me how different they can look, even in one area.
For now, I don’t presume to know what kind of Armillaria I’ve got, although it looks a lot like good old Armillaria mellea, the classic honey. I need a microscope … sadly low priority until I’m back to a positive cash flow.
Now how to cook them? I’m intrigued by an Australian recipe for squab with honey-mushroom sauce, but unsure how to procure pigeons at this late hour.
And should I dare, I’ve also got some orange peels—an edible sac fungus, Aleuria orantia, among today’s miscellanea. It doesn’t look delicious, but maybe as a garnish.