We needed to think about some things, so we went for a walk.
At Blue Apron in Park Slope, where we bought some ham and baguette (and perhaps some salami and some cheese) for an outing to the Bronx tomorrow, I begged for a couple of extra bags because I had forgotten to bring any for the mushrooms I hoped we might find.We were given white paper bags. Plastic is not good for mushrooms, said the nice guy behind the till. Be careful! said a customer. And off we went.
About thirty-five minutes later, having scanned all the trees and logs we passed, and not feeling very hopeful, I froze. Mushroomsssss, I hissed, pointing and trembling like a bird dog. We waited for one of the solitary men that seems to haunt this part of the woods to pass. And in we went. Nearby a mother and two small children were busy on the path. We figured they would not turn us in.
What gorgeous mushrooms.
We picked about a third of what we found - the mushrooms were thick on two sides of a fallen tree, with some young ones and then very mature ones on opposite ends. Already far more than we needed for one meal, and my mom always taught me to leave some behind. Some for other hunters, some to drop spores and continue the cycle.
When we left, we walked past the young mother and her children. They were picking up trash and bagging it, and leaving it for Parks workers to fetch. There was a lot of litter - bottles, cans, thrown in here and there.
On the way home I stopped in at Blue Apron again to thank them for the bags and offer some mushrooms in exchange. While very interested in the oyster mushrooms, no one took me up on my offer (not that I blame them...beware a woman bearing mushrooms), but the girl now behind the cash register said she'd recently found chicken of the woods nearby.
Just under four pounds, all told. I washed them and a beetle floated up. They did absorb water like a sponge, though, into their caps, and I could literally press down on the caps with kitchen paper and bring it up sopping wet afterwards. I kept one bag unwashed, and it's outside on the terrace, secure from marauding squirrels.
I sliced and sauteed our supper mushrooms in sweet butter with a small clove of garlic and some lemon juice, then a splash of cream, parmesan, pepper, pappardelle.