The Sense of Morels

Morels, mushrooms, fried morels, spring vegetables, healthy

“These are really good,” my coworker spoke quietly, “Don’t tell anyone I gave them to you,” he added as he glanced around nervously. He pressed a brown bag into my hands and backed out of my office.

At home I opened the bag and golden morels spilled out on to the counter. The spores were aliens; scary creatures of mystery but not intrigue. In my early years, mushrooms represented the dark, dank unknown. I stored the fungi in the refrigerator until I was able to forget their existence, and eventually they were pitched.

My past action, while horrifying to mushroom aficionados, came from a fear of the wild. Foraging seemed a little too "natural" to a girl who loved all things processed. Even as a kid I so feared the bugs and slugs that lived on my mom's expansive raspberry and strawberry gardens that I refused to eat fresh fruit for two summers. I was the poster child of a Monsanto-philosophy: chemicals good, nature bad.

RECIPES: Fried Morels, Spring Onions and Sage and Spring Mushroom and Asparagus Ragout

I attempt to atone for my past morel sins by adding plenty of fresh local mushrooms to my market tote. There is a mushroom for every season, and my redemption comes in the flavors of spring morels, summer chanterelles, and autumn trumpets and porcinis.

Chanterelles, morels, mushrooms, spring vegetable, farmers market

Mushrooms are loaded with energizing B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid) as well as antioxidants that protect cells and boost immunity. They are a natural vegan source of vitamin D which promotes bone health. They provide potassium which helps regulate blood pressure, and beta-glucans that aid in immunity and resistance to allergies. Best, mushrooms are a tasty, low-calorie, and filling addition to any meal.

Being gifted a chubby bag of morels still makes me feel like I am involved in an illicit drug exchange, but I finally understand the lore of the mushroom. With reverence and respect I carry my parcel home and gently unload the lacey caps into a pan of butter and herbs. Repast becomes a communion with my senses, although impatience has me foregoing a plate. Instead I lick my fingers and eat right out of the frying pan. And I don't share.

morels, mushrooms, spring, chanterelles, farmers market

For more information how how to prepare morels:

Spring Ingredient: Morel Mushrooms

For more mushroom recipes:

Preserved Mushrooms

Mini Goat Cheese and Mushroom Breakfast Burritos

Mushroom and Asparagus Quiche

Shiitake Mushroom and Mozzarella Salad