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So I stopped over at my aunt's place the other day, and she was all excited about having me try a casserole she had made. She insisted that I taste it before she'd tell me what was in it, and because I'm a good sport and I figure she's not going to try to poison me after having been my aunt for half a century, I did. It was pretty good - along with the elbow macaroni, I identiefied gorgonzola cheese, a touch of olive oil, and some strips of reddish meatlike stuff that tasted kind of chickeny.
I complimented her on the dish; it was well-seasoned and the flavors worked well together, and she hadn't tried to bury the whole thing in loads of cheese. That's when she told me that the meat-like stuff was chicken mushroom that she'd foraged from a neighbor's yard. New one on me; I gather a few different kinds of mushrooms (including the golden shrooms that come up every year in my backyard) but somehow this easily-identifyable and delicious mushroom had completely slipped my notice.
I did some reading up on them, and it turns out that chicken mushrooms are fairly common and a good mushroom for beginning mycologists to gather, since there are no poisonous mushrooms that look enough like them to be confused. They have an affinity for oak trees. This article from Eat Drink Better gives much more detail about the two chicken mushroom species, where you can find them, and how to gather them.
As a single man who doesn't cook, I would gladly take some casserole...of any kind....
Although I LOVE mushrooms, I could NEVER go out in a mushroom environment & pick my own. Although I know that many varieties will not destroy one's liver, I have never met anyone who knew the difference, and there are no plans here to learn from a book.
Although I have every reason to think that both you & your aunt know your way around fungus, I still think you're a brave man, Dave.
The dish your aunt made sounds wonderful. Should she have any leftovers after, oh say two days & you still feel good, I'd enjoy sampling it.
Wow, so that's what those are. I have this memory as a child, of an older gentleman approaching my family in the yard asking to harvest the squiggly growths off our oak trees. We never understood why. Now I do. It sounds awesome.
Drew, C'mon over any time for dinner. Bring beer, I'll send ya home with leftovers.
Tom, I've only started collecting mushrooms in the past few years, and I've always restricted myself to what I could positively identify. I've also had the guidance of a few people who are knowledgeable about wild mushrooms. P.S. We ate the casserole on Saturday, so I guess it was non-poisonous. :)
Anon, My first experience with wild mushrooms was in my own backyard, too, when a big head of honey mushrooms popped up.
Dave - re: your invitation to Andrew - can I come, too?
Astro - Totally. You're in charge of bringing the DVDs.
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