Friday, March 7, 2008

Survivor's Banquet

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:


Anonymous said...

excellent post, fella. you describe we dirt scratchers well...

no morels for us down here. (yet)

Chickenofthewoods said...

Sorry, i can't stop commenting.

Awesome photos of dirt-scratching folks' behaviors!

I love my mushrooming peoples.

Langdon Cook said...

Man, I turn my back for a second and the dirt-scratchers come barreling in!

Hey, great to have both of you aboard FOTL. Bacon, they let you out of Buster? If you keep on this Mushroom Trail you may find the mycelial buggers competing with steelhead for yr affections. It's seriously addictive. I can't understand why everyone isn't out in the woods doing it. Don't all kids love a good treasure hunt?

And COW: Thanks for the love. I'm gonna address some of yr other comments in a moment...

Anonymous said...

Buster gives me the month of march off, 'cause they're fishy peoples. been good lately down here. had a fine 12 lb. buck to hand today briefly before i sent him back to do make sweet, sweet love... i love the aggressive nature with which wild march steelhead come to the fly. so nice after a winter of logy takes and dogged fights. this one today, he was crazy pissed and a venerable high jumper!!

huckmama's out in fullforce this weekend intent on finding the first of the coastal morels. sure do hope she scores. can't wait to mix spring salmon fishing with her mushrooming freakouts. life is certainly good.

agreed on the addictive nature of this whole hunter-gatherer ethos. i never was much for hiking, but puttering through the woods off trail suits my low attention span well. the connection you feel with certain areas is fantastic, like they're hiding secrets only we mushroom peoples care to uncover. it's badass.