(LONG) The Chanterelle hunt

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Tue Oct 10 11:11:05 EST 2000


>From The Oregonian's FOODday, Oct. 10, 2000, p FD1

Matters of Taste column, by Chris Christensen
Hard day in the woods has its rewards -- mushrooms

	I taste the plumes of dust from the car ahead, as my old Honda huffs
and puffs on a slipping clutch up the narrow, rocky road.
	I'm on private land abutting the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on
the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, and had I any idea I'd
be playing "Indiana Jones" this gray and foggy morn, I'd have rented a
4x4.
	I'm following Paragon chef Peter Dougherty and his family, scotting
up the incline in a sprightly van. At this moment, anything would seem
sprightly next to my limping excuse for a car.
	We are driven here by the fleshy fungi that grow on the spongy
forest floor. It's mid-Septmeber and still a tad early for mushrooms,
considering there's been so little rain.
	It will take a practiced eye to find them, which is of no concern
this day. Doughtery; his parents, Dan and Barbara; his sister, Angie, and
two of her children; and Doughterty's two young daughters, Nichole, 9,
and Matti, 6, are all experts, able to spot yellow caps in the mossy
earth faster than you can say chanterelles.
	It's quite a drive to this "secret" paradise. And a very long way
from my childhood hunts through the autumn woodlands of Ohio, with my
grandmother, my siblings, and our Red Riding Hood baskets, filled at
day's end with pig's ear mushrooms (poster's note: probably Gomphus
clavatus) that were meatier than a juicy steak.
	What delicious payment for so little work, after Grandma freed them
of clinging earth, dipped them in egg, and rolled them in bread crumbs
seasoned with parmesan cheese, minced garlic and chopped fresh parsley.
	This time it's smoked mushroom ravioli I anticipate, a personal
recipe Doughtery promises to share. If I'm lucky enough to bag the main
ingredient, they'll be dinner tonight.
	We have our requisite mushroom permits, free for a signature at the
ranger station and good for 10 days of hunting and no more than three
gallons of mushrooms per person per day.
	We also have our forest maps, with directions to where we're allowed
to harvest, though no one has bothered to check. I am in the company of
veterans here.
	We finally pull over in a sunny area and park the cars.
	Abby, the Doughtery's black lab/golden retriever mix, wants to run.
The children grab for baskets and plastic pails, and 9-year-old Nichole
fishes out the only gardening glove and generously offers it to "the
reporter."
	I am not a veteran. At least not since I was her age.
	We walk up the road a bit, past a duckweed-covered pond. Along the
way, Dan Doughtery, Peter's dad and a botanist specializing in mycology,
spots reddish-topped stropharias, not edible unless you've a liking for
the taste of mold, he says.
	"Eewwwww!" screeches Matti, displaying a bright yellow substance on
the end of her finger.
	"That yellow slime mold that grows on tree stumps," her grandpa
explains.
	"Ick," Matti says, "looks like mustard."
	Heading into the woods, Peter explains it's a good year for
mushrooms. Not a great year, like 1998, which was the best in recent
history, but a good year. Already, the Pearl District chef is finding
they are decent, plentiful and reasonably priced from his purveyors.
	"Oh, oh, I see chanterelles," he says.
	Indeed. First one, then many, in a dry creek bed not far from the
road.
	He plucks them with a knife, leaving the spores to spread. I watch
as he spots them, one after the other, but I am no help. By the time I
sort through the fallen leaves, he has the mushrooms picked and in his
basket.
	"I have a pretty good eye for chanterelles,: he says, which is both
true and an attempt to soothe my ego.
	When Peter gets the mushrooms home, they'll surely be on the
Doughtery menu for days to come.
	"I saute 'em in butter and serve 'em over steak, until I get tired
of steak," he says. "I also use them in pastas and chowders. But their
flavor really does go well with butter."
	"What doesn't" his dad asks.
	Deeper into the woods, Dan notes the forest is thick with second-
growth Douglas firs. This is good. Peter says the mushrooms grow very
well beneath the trees.
	"Although every time I think I understand chanterelles," he says, "I
find them someplace new."
	The mushrooms also grow in clusters, but not large clumps, I add,
feeling good to have recognized something I don't have to be told.
	Still, I haven't spotted my first one. On this last day of summer,
their caps barely peak through the blanket of moss beneath our feet.
	"Three days after the first rain," Dan says, "you'll find more than
you'll know what to do with."
	We brush back the underbrush, crawling over and under dead brnches,
batting them out of our way. It's impossible not to get scratched, as
sooner or later one snaps back in your face.
	Battle scars, I say. Gotta work for the booty.
	Not far past a maple, its bark laid bare by elk antlers, Nichole
finds another patch of chanterelles. Feeling for her loser comrade, yet
to bag any of the aforementioned booty, she gently lowers them into my
bag.
	I refuse, but she insists.
	"There's lots of 'em," she assures.
	Indeed.
	Barb, Peter's mother, finds naother cluster, just as grandpa Dan
locates his own basketful oin the tiny caves under the roots of a huge
stump.
	It's one thing to know where they grow, quite another to know how to
spot them admist the camouflage.
	I persevere long enough to stumble on my own treasure. I see it,
identify it, pluck it. Tonight I cook it.
	For now, though, work calls to me. To the Doughtertys, the fun has
just begun, but I have a column to write.
	I bid my farewells, as Peter dumps a load of his mushrooms into my
bag. Lucky for me, I can't test recipes without ingredients.
	Dan hands me a few neon orange lobster mushrooms he picked along the
way. "These are different," he says, "but you might like them." Peter
instructs me to brush them with olive oil, season them and cook them on
the grill.
	"They'll stay firm, but they're good," he says.
	I grab my spoils, bid them goodbye and head for the highway, a
dinner deicsion weighing heavily on my mind.
	Mushroom steak or ravioli?

COMMENT BY POSTER: in addition to being just a nice article, this shows
the excitement of the hunt without guns: mushroom hunting. What is less
generally known is that chanterelles have been cultivated. Eric Danell
cultivated and fruited chanterelles with seedling pine trees grown in
pots in a greenhouse at Oregon State University several years ago.

I have also cultivated chanterelles, but the C. formosus found in the
PNW, not the C. cibarius cultivated by Danell. There is a problem:
production is seldom what I would call "commercial." But with more
emphasis being put on recreation nation-wide, mushroom farms open to
harvest by the public could start.

Consider: the following fungi have already beene grown on either sawdust
blocks, logs or with trees: Morels (Morchella sps), Blewit (Lepista
nuda), Shaggy Manes (Coprinus comatus), Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster),
Chanterelles (Cantharellus sps), Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), Wine-cap
Stropharia (Stropharia rugosa-annulata), enokitake (Flammulina
velutipes), Hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa), Goat's Beard or Bear's
Head (Hericium erinaceus, H. coralloides, H. abietis); Oregon White
truffles (Tuber gibbosum var. autumnale), Oregon Gray truffle (Tuber
gibbosum var. gibbosum), Oregon Pallid truffle (Tuber murinum), Oregon
Black truffle (Leucangium carthusiana), and others. In the last 10 years
numbers of cultivated fungi have mushroomed, and it is likely the future
will hold even more. Most of these were ignored as crops or forest income
sources 20 years ago.

In addition to excellent eating, many fungi hold promise in
bioremediation, food and medicine.

Posted as a courtesy by:
Daniel B. Wheeler
www.oregonwhitetruffles.com


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