Tonight was the annual Survivor's Banquet of the Puget Sound Mycological Society, to honor all those who have made it through another season of mushroom hunting and cookery. Dinner included a Croatian Soup of Napa Cabbage and Matsutake; Baby Mushroom Fritters on a Bed of Baby Greens; Chicken Schnitzel with Wild Mushroom Ragout; and a Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse on Spiced Pear (pictured above).
I dig the mushroom people. They're so unapologetically beyond wacky. A few of them looked like they'd just woken up under toadstools. One wore an Amanita muscaria wizard's cap. At the end of the night, on my way out of the men's room, I met an old guy in suspenders. He looked like a logger—or maybe a Berkeley professor. His shock of white hair was combed back and just long enough to hint at a ponytail in earlier years. He walked with a slight limp. "Any psychedelics tonight?" he asked me in a gravelly voice, an impish twinkle in his eye. It was a reasonable question. The club formed in 1965. You'd have to guess there were a few members who were primarily interested in finding magic mushrooms back then. And while still plenty of old hippies hang on in this bunch, nowadays it's mostly folks who simply like to get outside and scratch around in the dirt (including those old hippies, too).
What I like about mycological clubs, birdwatching groups, botany societies and the rest is that these are people who are curious about the world around them, not the alternate reality shining out of the box in the living room.
Check out this happy mushroomer: