Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Morchella, Mon Amour
"Seek and ye shall find," goes the biblical admonition (Matthew 7:7, merci Google), but it doesn't specify what ye shall find. And that's really rather clever, I think, because if you're all sort of type-A, compulsive-obsessive, goal-oriented in your seeking, well, you're much more likely to be disappointed than if you're prepared to be happy with whatever ye may find when ye goes a-seeking.
Case in point: I've been very up front about my abject failure to locate morels in years past. I've looked and looked, followed all the sage advice, and basically come home empty-handed. Seven or eight morels has constituted a major haul for me, so when I hear about people bringing home grocery bags full, I confess I have succumbed to debilitating morchella envy.
So I quit looking. Mary reminded me that many of my best foraging finds have come when I was doing something else entirely, or looking for something that was not what I found--a cress spring or a big tooth mushroom hanging from a streamside tree while fishing, hen-of-the-woods when I was after woodcock, a hill covered in chanterelles when I was just out walking with the dogs.
We were out at Bide-A-Wee last weekend, practicing some of our favorite Bide-A-Wee activities, "Peering Into Thickets" and "Swimming Through Bramble Patches." I was doing a little thicket peering, just scanning the ground under mixed brush, thinking I might see something much more humble than the vaunted morel--a patch of ostrich ferns, maybe, even some nice wood nettles--and the first one popped out at me. A small yellow morel, maybe two inches tall. When you've looked so often and not found morels, it's pretty amazing to not be looking, and then see one. I called Mary over and we started searching the area more closely. It didn't take long to pick around 30 morels, from an inch-and-a-half to about three inches long. We were pretty excited.
We sautéed some to have with a steak that night. They were good, but their flavor was a little overwhelmed by the beef. The next day for lunch we prepared them according to my favorite method for enjoying the best flavor of wild mushrooms--alongside soft-scrambled eggs flavored with salt, pepper, a sprinkling of chives, topped with the sweet, chivey flower stalks. I added a little milk to the eggs for a soft texture. Glass of our own cider to wash it down.
I'm hoping to be not looking for morels again this year.
Text and photos copyright 2010 by Brett Laidlaw