Who knew that one fine May afternoon I’d be traipsing through woods in western Minnesota looking for an elusive gourmet treat.
Since last year Julia had promised a trip to some unknown forested area where mosquitoes and ticks freely roam. The endgame was to find something that looks almost phallic in its appearance.
Locating this fungi was simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating. Dressed in clothes that deter insect bites and sprayed with Deet repellant we ventured into some woods near Hutchinson. “Look for fallen, decaying elm trees”, she advised. Deep into the woods we pushed aside leaves, plants and clouds of mosquitoes — right clouds.
Julia had forewarned that finding the elusive plant could prove fruitless. She reinforced this by telling us, “I only found six or seven last weekend. So don’t be too disappointed if our booty is limited. Enjoy the hike and the weather. Bedsides the growing season is very short and we are searching at the tailed of the season.”
Per instruction we took each plant at its base — enabling it to regenerate for next year. Each plant shared a nutty aroma — causing tastebuds to come alive. As we searched the air came alive with laughter, sharing recipes and enjoying the freshness of the day.
For the better part of four hours we were able to collect nearly four pounds of fungi.
Overwhelmed by our success and filled with a gnawing need to eat we decided to call it a day. We had wandered deeper than we realized so the hike out to the car took longer then expected. Once in the car we sped to Hutchinson for lunch.
The fungi have a brief shelf life so we washed some and fried them in butter and corn flour. The rest are in the frig. Some were given to Julia too.
I can’t wait until next year’s hunt for no other reason then to learn if this year’s haul was only beginner’s luck.
And that my friends is the Morel of the story.