By Ellen Jacobson
My Lake Tahoe brother, Jim, called me a few weeks ago and said he had just received a very large box of mushrooms via Fed Ex from a friend in La Honda, California. For those of you who are weather freaks, California is in its usual state too much moisture, not enough moisture, mud- slides, winds, and rampaging forest fires. But La Honda, a small town near the coast had, as Baby Bear said, “Just the right amount of moisture,” to bring on an exceptional crop of wild mushrooms including Chanterelles.
The box contained about 15 pounds of Chante- relles and this was not her first picking nor would it be her last. These were no ordinary Chante- relles especially since there were only about 20 in the box. You can easily imagine that some of the giants weighed in at almost a pound. Now that
is a BIG mushroom in anyone’s basket. He ate them, froze them, gave them away, and then in a great fit of brotherly love decided to send some to his big sister.
Now the shipping on the 15 pounds from La Honda to Lake Tahoe was $40.00. The shipping for 3 pounds to Denver was to be $80.00. Even generous Jim is not that generous and so, as I put my trusty mushroom knife away, I bemoaned my loss of genuine California culinary delights. But then, Jim checked once more at a non-Fed Ex shipping facility and found that for only $40.00 he could ship them to me and that seemed like such a bargain, that the mushrooms were soon on their way. (Actually, the United States Post office would have had the best rate.)
The next day the doorbell rang and there they were all nicely packed with their lovely woodsy dirt still on them. There were only four and, of course, I had to weigh the largest which tipped the scales at 14 oz. It was as big as my hand. The wonderful odor brought summer in Colorado to the kitchen and the excitement of stumbling upon golden rings of this very desirable mushroom.
I brushed off the dirt which was much easier to do on one giant than on many Colo- rado minis. I chopped it up, the texture was firm and smooth, and then sautéed it in olive oil, butter, and minced shallot until just cooked and the juices had been released. A fellow mushroom connois- seur and I then sat down for a special breakfast of crepes filled with my California delectable. But oh, horrors, the lovely Chanterelles had no flavor; we both agreed that if we had been blindfolded, we would not have been able to identify what mushroom we were eating. Please feel free to supply your own moral to this sad story as I am unable to think of one. (And, no, I did not tell my brother.)
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