The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
Mushroom lovers have noticed that there has been a remarkable dearth of chanterelles this year, also boletus, puffballs, and meadow mushrooms. What a pleasure, then, to find the shaggy manes pushing up in our neighbors’ backyard. With shaggy manes (Coprinus comatus) there is no time to lose: they must be picked, cleaned, cut up and fried immediately before they start to turn black. Don’t fry too many at a time. They’re watery and need a good shot of heat, and never get as crisp as you’d like. Use on pizza, in tomato sauce, or as a delectable side dish.
What is it about mushrooms that makes them so special? They have an interesting texture and they’re probably full of trace something-or-other; but really, I think we love them because they’re free. My mom and dad loved all free food. I was going off to university in Edmonton (we lived in Alberta) and my parents had heard of a basement apartment in the home of some retired missionaries, so we made the three hour trip to the city to check it out. The apartment was fine and my parents liked the missionaries, so it was agreed that my sister and I would rent one of the rooms. Unfortunately, as we were leaving the house my big toe caught on the back of my sandal and flipped up my toenail. Oh yes, it was painful! Now here’s the mushroom connection. On our drive back home we passed a whole hillside of shaggy mane mushrooms, so what did my parents do but stop and pick a few buckets full, while I waited in the car with my sore toe. Somehow those memories stick with one.
And has anyone seen a magic mushroom lately? Everyone who lived here during the ’70s and ’80s must remember the pickers from Québec who swarmed over our cow pastures and golf courses every fall. Is it possible that they picked every single paneolus mushroom on the whole Island?
Some things we miss more than others. In short supply are wild apples, and the few that are still on the trees are hard, sour and spotty. I suppose we can thank the blossom-destroying wrath of Hurricane Arthur for that. Fortunately there are plenty of delicious apples in the stores and market gardens, so our freezer is gradually filling applesauce…that will then get buried under everything else until spring. It’ll be a treat then!
No complaints. It’s been a gorgeous autumn and the purple asters have been spectacular. The firewood is in. Gas prices dropped a few cents. The weather has been perfect for the potato harvest. Those huge cornfields are finally whacked down, leaving the fields looking like a 1950s brush cut.
I guess we can live without chanterelles for one year. Or who knows, maybe they’ll pop up after the next rain.