Mushroom Foray Report: Sept. 22, 2007

by Bill Wolpert

I know I am still a relative newcomer to foraging wild mushrooms, but this first foray of the season was the driest and least productive of my experience at Salt Point. Rain threatened, but not convincingly enough to bring out the Big Tarp. The ocean was flat and abalone divers shared the campground, but not the abs. Dorothy Beebee probably got a bigger score of mushrooms for her dye pot than anyone got for the cook pot. For the first time in a couple years, neither Patrick or Aaron uncovered a perfect Boletus edulis. Still, a couple of people dug up a big handful of crisp little chanterelles. And, of course, we ate well.

That brings me to a point of mushroom etiquette. It is a great challenge to find chanterelles or matsutakes, or any mushroom that has not broken above the ground. That is just part of the game and the skill of identifying "shrumps." But we must avoid the temptation to "rake" the duff in search of our quarry. Sure, it's effective, but we are disturbing -- if not destroying -- the special habitat. The mycelium network is intricately woven through this layer that one is tempted to remove to get at the hidden treasure. What is left behind is not only ruined habitat, but an unsightly landmark identifying where you found mushrooms. Don't do it.

I am enjoying the cool nights and warm days. It definitely feels like a change in seasons. NOAA is forecasting La Nina conditions for the eastern Pacific. This translates to colder than normal ocean temperatures off our coastline. The results typically translate to more rain in the northwest and drier than normal conditions in the southwest. This is the opposite of El Nino when Southern California often gets flooded. I imagine we are somewhere in the middle, but who knows where that line is drawn?

See you in the woods.

Recipe for Patrick's Wild Mushroom and Tuna "Brandade" »