Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mushrooms, Mushrooms Everywhere

It's quite true, mushrooms are popping up everywhere this time of the year. A good soaking of rain, and they appear seemingly from nowhere. People tend to feel strongly about mushrooms - they either love them, or hate them. But most of us don't know enough about them either way.
And it is not easy to know something about the kingdom of mushrooms, those quiet recyclers whose bodies of mycelia weave immense nets all over our planet, invisible to most.

To educate the people about the fruits of fungus that occasionally are visible, and also edible, we invited in an expert...
(Boletes and a medicinal reishi mushroom)

This past weekend STARworks Garden hosted two Wild Mushroom Hunts, with Asheville's Alan Muskat, The Mushroom Man.

On Saturday we gathered by Low Water Bridge, in Montgomery county, and walked in the woods that are protected by Land Trust for Central NC. Crystal Cockman from the Land Trust came out and introduced the mission of Land Trust for Central NC and joined the mushroom walk. Thank you Crystal for all your help, and to Land Trust for trusting us with your woods!
(Alan Muskat hearing the stories of modern hunter gatherers)

The Saturday workshop went by so fast. Following a lecture, a short walk and mushroom gathering, Alan cooked up the goods with a bit of garlic and olive oil. I think we all learned to identify the Leatherback Milkcaps and Honey Mushrooms. We also tasted some Boletes.

(Alan Muskat introducing characteristics of different types of mushrooms)

The Sunday group convened in my back yard:) Huge thanks to Carolyn McDermott and Fred Shucker for allowing 18 people to roam their woods! The mushroom loot gathered from a relatively small piece of land was amazing! (Lucky for my family now, that I know how many edible mushrooms are practically in my back yard!)
(Alan talking about the forest community, the symbiotic relationship between mushrooms and plants in relation to human community, and the symbiotic relationship we humans should strive to nurture with our natural environment)
(More pontificating)
After learning about some of the edibility identification methods, and how to handle mushrooms, it was time to pick out the edibles, and do a taste test.
I had two cast iron skillets going in the kitchen cooking the ELEVEN different edibles we found that day. Cauliflower mushroom, Old Man of the Woods, Boletes, and Common Fiber Vase are some that come to mind.

(Humans from the mushroom level)

Alan finished our Sunday workshop with his "Fist Full of Fungus" rap song :) He's a Fun guy. Get it?

We hope he will be coming back to teach us some more.


Lynne said...

We had a great time on Saturday. I hope you can do a Mushroom hunting part II at some point.

JLK Jewelry said...

I wish we could have attended it sounds great. And meeting the fun guy, (everyone of them) would be good!

Laurie said...

Oh, I can't believe I missed the rap song! I ditto Lynne, & hope he'll be back.