Connecting with nature
Have you ever foraged your own dinner? Have you gone into the fields or woods to collect plants or mushrooms for food? How did you like doing that? Let me tell you how i felt when i went out into the forest with my friend Ton last week (thank you Ton for being my mushroom teacher!):
I felt joyful, I felt grateful. I felt in awe with and humbled by nature’s beauty, variety and potency. I felt very much connected and alive.
The whole experience of walking, paying attention, determining, respectfully choosing, cleaning and carrying the yield is just delightful.
Have you learned that foraging mushrooms is dangerous? That it’s easy to mistake the edible for the poisonous and get ill? I was taught the same, and… it’s true! If you eat the wrong kind, you might die. And yes, the deadly kind are in your area too, (possibly) cuddled in between the healthy ones.
So… let’s not touch any wild mushrooms ever, ok?
Hm. Not ok.
Crossing the street is dangerous, too. Diving and mountain climbing are dangerous, and still many of us do it. Riding a bicycle is dangerous. Building a hut is dangerous. But all of these are also very practical, exhilarating, or even spiritual experiences.
Dangerous is not bad per se. It just requires a mindful approach. So before you do it, you want to learn how to do it. By asking for guidance, by practicing and double-checking, by taking the next step when you know you are ready. Step by step, you become skilled.
Why would you?
Well… have you ever eaten wild mushrooms? The taste is amazing! Nutty, peppery, earthy or fruity aromas. Chewy, velvety, meaty structures… wow. That really doesn’t compare to anything you find in a store. Markets may be better already, but still.
Moreover, there’s nothing like foraging your own food before eating it. In fact, it’s one of the things that can make people live for a long, long time!
The broccoli-shaped food in the picture? That’s a mushroom! Because of its shape, it holds fluids very well so it’s juicy like broccoli florets, and the flesh resembles chicken meat! It’s delicious and i love it.
As grownups, we have learned to give up control in certain areas of our lives. Collecting and preparing food are good examples. Now there isn’t anything wrong with outsourcing what you don’t fancy doing yourself.
BUT if the experience of collecting your own food appeals to you, then let’s not believe anyone who says it is too dangerous for us to do it ourselves. If you are willing to learn, you can.
Find yourself a teacher. Find good information from a trusted source. Do not trust a recipe website, amateur forum or random Youtube channel to tell you which mushrooms to pick and which to leave. Check who authored trusted guides, buy the books and find their online info.
Let this girl be your example
The girl in the video is almost four years old. To some it may be shocking that she is playing with mushrooms. I find it beautiful. She is learning what her natural habitat has to offer: both the threats and the treats. (It’s in Dutch, that’s irrelevant. The language of play and learning is universal 😉 ).
Whoever told you you can’t do what she is doing? I’m not saying you have to. But you can.
Recipe wild mushrooms
Heat some olive oil and fry the sliced mushrooms. Add salt and pepper. I like to keep it basic to enjoy the pure rich taste. Mushrooms will give a great umami (= hearty) taste to plain (leafy) vegetables or pasta. Also nice as topping for a soup and a brilliant addition to risotto.
Let’s be loving foragers
Please take respectfully, and no more than you need and will use. Also be careful not to damage plants or trees. Do find out which kinds are plentiful and which need to be protected.