Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Venture into Morels

It is that time of year again: mushroom hunting season.  I've never been mushroom hunting, but I vaguely know some people get pretty worked up about it. The only two mushroom types that exist in my head are "regular" and "portobello".  I was reminded that this is not reality when I was reminded by some 'shroomers that there are also morels.  One even showed me his mushroom stick with a morel carved on it, and laughed when I didn't know what it was.

It's a good thing he showed me, though. When I went to the Farmer's Market this weekend, I immediately recognized the strange, spongy looking fungus that was selling for its weight in gold. One of the sellers laughed and said the price was to compensate for all the time they spent picking off ticks afterwards.  Umm, yuck

Well, by this time, my curiosity was climbing.  What is so special about these stinking mushrooms?  So I found the smallest portion that they were selling and bought myself some morels. I got home and went straight to the internet to try to figure out what the heck to do with them.

One recipe mentioned that you should cut the mushroom in quarters lengthwise and soak them in cold saltwater for a while to kill any critters.  Another place said that the morels will soak up the salt and kill some of the natural flavors, so you should just rinse them with water.  I glanced at them, and I didn't see anything that concerned me, but I prepared some salt water anyway.  I like my food critter free.

I cut the first one in fourths and plopped it in the water.  I grabbed the second one, cut it open, and an entire colony of ants hit the counter! They went everywhere!  My thoughts also went everywhere: "Holy lot of ants!" "Make 'em stop! Make 'em stop!"  "Whaddo I do now?!" "Whoa those boogers are fast!" "Oh. My. Goodness."  But all that came out as I hopped up and down was: "EwEwEwEw".  Oh, stop judging me.  It was highly unexpected, since I figured "critters" might involve one or two insects that I may or may not see.  

After killing as many of the ants as I could and sending the rest down the drain, I finished my cutting (checking inside a little more carefully).  No more surprises besides one tiny spider about the size of a dust speck.  I got them all in the water and added a little more salt, just to be sure.

This evening I fried them up with eggs according to a simple recipe I found.  They were pretty tasty, but I can't say that they were so good as to generate all the fuss. Maybe after you've had them a few times you develop are real taste for them?  That, or maybe I need to skip the salt water next time.

Gotcha! I crack myself up. If there is a next time, brine will be involved.

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