A morel mushroom

“OH MY GOD, A MOREL!” I cried, after having given up the search and nearly abandoning the woods. Tom, a more seasoned mushroomer, hissed for me to, “Keep it down.” While it’s likely obvious, I have only been out looking for mushrooms, or mushrooming, once before (twice if you count our hike in Muir Woods outside San Francisco), and I’m not yet very well versed in the caginess of mushroom hunters. I will, however, not mention exactly where we went yesterday or reveal where our tip came from–even foragers-in-training have to protect the secrets of the woods.

After seeing morels for sale at the Midtown Farmers Market ($10/basket) and the Wedge Coop ($40/pound), I got an itch to go hunting for our own. It’s not that I didn’t want to spend the money: morels are expensive, but so is gas and fruitless hours spent wandering the woods. Yesterday’s adventure added up to two hours of driving time (there and back) and an additional two or more hours to find two ounces of mushrooms, which could have been had for a mere $5.

But all experiences should not be reduced to such crude economic calculations. An afternoon started with a good lunch of rye Real Bread, a package of Gardens of Eagan strawberries, hummus, and cheese followed by a ramble through the astonishingly green Minnesota woodlands cannot be so easily valued. For the most part we stuck to trails. Only two of our morels were found off the trail, while we spotted five (yes, that’s a total of seven) without leaving the trail at all.

Martha, wearing in a brown t-shirt, holds a morel mushroom in hand Tom holds a morel in hand

All of our finds occurred after we’d completely given up (which we did four times) and insisted that the season was over, it was hopeless, and we might as well quit looking. Mushrooming is sort of like trying to remember something and focusing too hard, causing all memory to be blocked and much suffering from “It’s on the tip of my tongue” until several hours later, when you’ve completely forgotten about remembering and everyone else has gone home and the very thing comes to mind with ease.

Satisfied with our seven mushrooms in tow, and feeling a bit tired after a couple of hours staring intently to the left and right, we climbed into the car to head back to Minneapolis. Just as Tom, who offered to drive home, was pulling out of the parking area, a man walked by with what I insist was a football-sized morel in the crook of his arm. “OH MY GOD,” I yelled, out my open window. Tom, now thoroughly embarrassed, hushed me once more saying, “You can’t just yell ‘OH MY GOD’ at someone out the window!” and continued driving out of the lot. And so I have no picture, but perhaps that is best. We wouldn’t want to reveal too much.

Fried morel mushrooms

Find more pictures of morels and other fungi finds on Flickr.


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2 comments on “Morel-ing”

  1. Crystal 17 May, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Great job guys! My husband and I went this weekend and all we got for it were some ticks. I really wanted to just find one. That’s all. Oh well…maybe next year.

  2. Amy 17 May, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Martha, I’m still laughing…! What a great accounting–so TRUE that mushrooming is not done directly, only caught in the periphery of your vision. Thanks for writing!

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