It's getting close to that time of year again. In previous years as you can see here, here, here and here, this is the week or two before the madness strikes me and everyone else in this part of the country. Homes become deserted, American Idol is not blaring from televisions, and suddenly the backwoods are filled with people walking around stooped over. Already I can feel the itch and the seemingly insatiable hunger deep in my belly as I eye the weather reports. Next week, possibly a week and a half from now, I will be totally consumed with the Morel Mushroom Madness.
This year, like many throughout the Midwest, we've had rains a plenty which bodes well for a bumper crop of the dirt growing little sponges of spore. Today is cold and rainy and feels more like a late fall rain than a mid spring one. But the weather forecast is promising almost seventy degrees next week. All I need to figure out now is what to do with the mother-in-law who arrives next Thursday. Asking her to overnight at the airport while I hunt for spores is probably not the best way to endear her. But perhaps if I can work it in such a way, explain that while I go out into the dark deep woods among the snakes and poison ivy, she could help by watching Little Abbey, just perhaps this all might work out to my advantage.
Yesterday, the first token article on the Morel Mushroom Madness hit the state rag and even a seasoned 'shrooming' vet such as myself, learned some new things. Evidently, if you find a spot with 500 or more mushroom, usually under a Mushroom Machine (see past blogs on that), you are supposed to do a dance and eat dirt. The dance is obvious as long as you don't trample mushrooms but the eating dirt part threw me until I read that it really meant kissing these obviously hallowed grounds that produced such numbers of sporey goodness. They also talked about the latest craze of drive by 'shrooming' where you drive around the country roads looking for dead elm trees growing in the right-of-ways. People talk about bagging more than one hundred pounds of mushrooms in an outing. Local mushrooms sometimes sell for $50 per pound, wet, so those who don't eat them can make some pretty decent money.
I prefer to eat my profits, sometimes sautéed in a little garlic and butter, sometimes diced up in an omelet or whatever happens to be cooking on the stove, but largely dipped in a little bit of flour and fried crispy. I've been known to take fried mushroom sandwiches to work for lunch, just mushrooms and bread and nothing else. I'm a purist in that way and just love the earthy flavor. We will fry up a pound or two every night for a few weeks until the season ends. If we are lucky, we'll have a few left over that we can dehydrate and save for occasional use during the rest of the year but not often are we that lucky. By the end of the very short season, we will have digested so many, that most are content to go without for a while. Mercifully, the Morel Mushroom Madness fades, the backs straighten up, people return home and a few flick on American Idol to see who is still standing.