Everyone’s got a hobby of one sort or another. We actually have quite a number – woodworking, stained glass, etc. For me, the line gets blurred between a hobby and a sport. A hobby is something that one does for the pleasure and the relaxation of it. A sport is more of a physical activity, like golf, baseball, or football. So I’m not sure where ‘mushrooming’ falls – as it is a source of relaxation, fun, and physical exertion (as in – LOTS of walking through the woods).
They say one person’s trash is another’s treasure. For those that don’t go mushrooming, it’s hard for them to understand the draw. As someone who enjoys the ‘sport’, I get a great thrill every time I find one of the prized mushrooms I seek – like porcini and chanterelle. It’s exciting, exhilarating, and satisfying.
At worst… it’s a lovely walk in the woods. At best, one comes home with coveted mushrooms to eat and enjoy. In what other sport can you eat your spoils?
I still remember the very first time I ever tasted a porcini mushroom. It was probably 25 years ago in Pisa, Italy. There was a basket of porcini’s in front on this lovely bistro. I stopped to ask the attendant what they were…. when they described this king of mushrooms fresh picked from their local forest, we went straight inside and ordered off their menu those dishes they recommended that were porcini forward. I will never forget the meaty, earthy delicious flavor they imparted. Like no mushroom I have ever eaten.
Years later, now living in Northern Arizona, once I heard there were porcini mushrooms growing in our local forests, I just knew I had to get educated on the how, where’s and what to find them for myself. Now I forage for my own, and enjoy the ‘foraging bug’ and finding my own wild things to put on my table and in my pantry. The euphoria and joy of finding these beautiful little treasures is unparalleled. I’m hooked. Can’t wait to go back.