Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The mushrooms are back!

Today was a good day. I found mushrooms today. Porcini mushrooms that is, Italy’s favourite foraged food. I became hooked six years ago. I’d gone out with my wife’s uncle, Giacomino. At the time, I saw it as a walk in the woods… but it became much more than that.

Porcini mushrooms, from the boletus group - ceps in English, simply funghi in Italian or, believe it or not, ‘Fonz’ (how cool is that?) in the local dialect - are Italy’s most loved wild mushroom. They can’t be cultivated and there is no other type of mushroom that comes close. The best of ‘the best’ are the cep mushrooms of Borgotaro, the only mushroom to have earned protected status under the EU’s Designated Food Protection Scheme. And here’s the thing – Borgotaro, in the neighbouring province of Parma, is less than an hour’s drive from my doorstep!

Today was a good day because these are the first mushrooms of the autumn season. It’s been a bad year generally for mushrooms. It was a frustrating summer season, blighted by high temperatures, high winds and very little rainfall. Hours spent trawling through the woods resulted in little reward. So that makes these particular mushrooms even more special. And what’s more, I didn’t find them in Parma. Nor did I find them in my home province. I found them on an impromptu trip in the mountains above Lake Como. I won’t say where exactly as that would be giving the game away. Suffice to say, mushrooms are growing and every indication is, there’s more to come. So keep tuned, I'll be back…

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