Monday, November 28, 2022

Wood ears and winter

A wood ear's point-of-view, during a recent forage class in Prospect Park. The wood ears studied the humans, the humans studied the wood ears.

The texture of fresh wood ears (species of Auricularia mushrooms) is extraordinary. Silky, soft, alive. And to eat? A little like oysters, in terms of slitheriness, but with a snap. They are one of the oldest mushrooms in cultivation. Maybe you've had them in spring rolls, or in a glass noodle salad, or in hot-and-sour soup. 

Medicinally, they work like aspirin, as a blood thinner. 

And they like logs and injured trees, surrounding us even in cities.

Their characteristic, textural snap works beautifully in meatballs (although...possibly anything works well in meatballs?), and I also add whole mushrooms to the pan-sauce because they act as pliant sponges for flavor. The Frenchman adores them. So do I. Neither of us had eaten them fresh until a few years ago. 

And now, in late November, the simmering and the bubbling, the kitchen-sounds of early evening in winter (is it winter, if it's late November? I never know), the scents of slow food returning, include these cool-weather 'shrooms. 

Read more about the mushrooms in my story for Gardenista (and snag my very easy and delicious one-skillet chicken and wood ear dinner).


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