Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Professional

My head is still reeling. I got to hang out with a professional forager on Monday. Unfortunately, I can't divulge much more than that right now, but I'll say this: my own knowledge could fit in with the dirt and duff under his left pinky nail.

Making your living as a forager is unbelievably hard work. Most professionals—and I use the term loosely—are recent immigrants, legal and otherwise, who are willing to do this seasonal, mercurial, back-breaking work for wages that average out, in most cases, to the minimum. Then there are those who either shun society or want to work in the woods. A very small percentage are making it their daily career and being well compensated. This forager was in the latter category.

Together we scouted some of his spring porcini patches in a casual, day-off sort of way, filling a couple buckets just the same with no. 1 buttons and a bunch of coral to boot. That's about all I can say for now. I'm writing a piece on our day together and will supply more details at a later date.

Pasta with Porcini in Sage Butter

When I got home I took one of my porcini and chopped it up and sauteed it for a few minutes in sage butter (a couple tbsp of hot melted butter that is just starting to brown, with crispy fried sage leaves), then poured over penne. Garnished with chopped parsley and grated parm. Simple and delicious. Don't be surprised, though, if your spring porcini is milder than the fall variety.

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