Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Morel Hunt and How I Found Plastic-Free Food In The Forest

This evening my friend Jim and I drove out to a forest preserve on the outskirts of Chicago to go on a morel hunt with a local mushrooming group.

I have been obsessed with the idea of mushroom hunting for a while, so when we arrived a few minutes late to the forest preserve parking lot, I freaked out because no one was there. I was so worried that we had missed the event altogether. Luckily, a few somewhat experienced people from the group showed up a few minutes after we got there and stopped any chance of me hyperventilating or crying from disappointment.

With the two people that had arrived, Jim and I set out into the forest to find some fungus. At first we didn't see anything—just the beautiful spring flowers, lush undergrowth, and bright green color of the forest—but eventually Jim found something. Don, one of the people with us, confirmed that what he found was indeed a small morel. More specifically, as we later learned, it was a half-free morel.

How amazing! And just a few seconds later Jim found another little morel right nearby. I was determined to find one of my own so I circled the elm tree we were near, and found, much to my great happiness, a big half-free morel, about four inches in length.

Just as we found these mushrooms some of the other club members found us and came over to greet us. I shared that my morel was the first one I had ever found, and a grey-haired fellow also named Jim, the seeming leader of the group, said that I needed to start singing the corresponding song, which was, of course, "The First Morel" as sung to the tune of the similarly named Christmas tune. Ah, mushroom people are nerds. I love it.

Anyways, about 20 minutes after our first proud discoveries it started to rain. No, I should say it started to rain heavy drenching sheets so we had to make a mad dash to our car.

But that was okay. We had four half-free morels in our possession, which we brought home and cooked up. Just as the older Jim had promised, they weren't the best tasting mushrooms in the world—sort of flowery tasting, not strongly flavored—but that was okay. We found something edible in the forest, and that was certainly cool enough.


Laura said...

"The First Morel" That is too cute! :) Foraging sounds so fun. I have been toying with the idea myself. I started with baby steps. I bought some stinging nettles (edible, despite the name)from Foraged&Found at my local farmers market. They were tasty!

MandyPandy said...

I agree with Laura: foraging is a great and often unexplored alternative! Morels are a great find, but there have to be many more wild edibles in your area! Perhaps you could do a feature devoted to foraging, and show us some of the tasty foods that can be found in the wild?

LifeLessPlastic said...

Laura, I love the idea of foraging too. It's so awesome to think that you can just go off into the forest and fine food.

Oh, and I thought the first morel thing was super cute, too. It really made me laugh!

LifeLessPlastic said...

Mandy, Thanks for you comment! I'm sure there are many more wild edibles where I live, but right now I don't know too much on the subject. I'm planning on going to an info session/tutorial on foods you can forage in and around Chicago in June. I'll be sure to provide a full report on what I learn in my blog.

amanda said...

wow...great job!

jennconspiracy said...

mmmmm - morels! Need photos, please. Yum. We don't have easy to locate morel spots here like folks in the midwest do.... though I did get more than my fair share of golden chanterelles over the winter. Yay. :)

I *heart* mushroom foraging.