Some magnificent looking mushrooms have sprung up in front of the house across the street. The size of salad plates, appearing suddenly when heavy rains followed a heat wave, they seem magical, planted by a garden troll or an alien.
In my mind, I’m gathering and giving them a quick rinse, chopping a bit, and sautéing in butter, garlic and fresh herbs. I’d mix them with wild rice or serve on top of pasta. Or just eat straight from the pan.
I remember years ago we had a houseguest from Australia visiting. After a summer rain, she collected the mushrooms from the lawn. My mother panicked and admonished her, worried about having to tell her mother she’d been poisoned. Jane, our guest, assured us these were fine. Trusting her, we ate them and they were great.
But not knowing mushrooms—with more than 1,000 varieties worldwide and many of them poisonous- I’ll stick to buying at the grocery store and leave identifying to the botanists who study them. There’s a Czech adage that warns: “Every mushroom is edible, but some only once.”
Nevertheless, they remind me of nature’s mysteries. Beautiful. Temporary. Mystical.