Feast by Foraging

by Marina M.

My family went camping a lot when I was a kid. And, you know, a lot of it was for just being out in nature and roasting marshmallows over the open fire. Definitely not for the opportunity to experience a forest bathroom, though. Mainly, it was because, for as long as I can remember, my family has been mushroom hunters. With an Eastern European background, it just seems natural.

Check. And double check. And consult an expert.

As members of the local mushroom club, Snohomish County Mycological Society, my parents had a built-in educational system for learning how to identify edible and non-edible mushrooms. And you really want to make sure what you’re eating isn’t going to kill you. After almost four decades my dad is now considered a well-educated amateur mycologist and a good resource in identifying mushrooms. But before that he consulted many experts in person. As well as using books for identification.

He shared his favorites:

Make sure your expert is an expert.

There are a lot of good resources out there but you have to make sure your expert is as expert as they say they are. As one Instagrammer-turned-author found out when her book came under fire for promoting irresponsible preparations of foraged ingredients. Like consuming raw mushrooms (specifically dipped in chocolate-that’s wrong on so many levels). As I’ve learned from my dad, and other fungi experts, it’s safer to cook your freshly picked mushrooms before eating them. But other times it might be OK? Just make sure you have all the facts before you try anything. And, I can’t stress this enough–consult a trained expert. Almost every book that I included in my list had at least one story where a foraged item was eaten and the outcome resulted in severe illness, and even death.

But, honestly, there’s nothing better than a fresh morel sauteed in butter and garlic on top of a toasted piece of sourdough. Add a fried egg on top of that and you have a little piece of heaven on earth, in my opinion. If you’re ever unsure, or unable to forage, local grocery stores are offering more and more of these options for sale.

Full-course forest feast foraging.

As I’m sure you know, especially living in the Pacific Northwest, there are other items out there to forage. The most common wild, foraged item is blackberries. They’re EVERYWHERE! At my house they form a natural fence barrier to keep my dogs in and provide my cats with cool hunting tunnels which results in them bringing me the most precious presents. But that’s a story for another time. I admit to becoming very creative in my use of various blackberry recipes over the past few summers. From blackberry vinaigrette to jam to the most delicious crumble bars I’ve ever made. Obviously Washington offers up way more forage-able items but mushrooms and blackberries are in my comfort zone. For now.

And there are many other foraged items available for you to find in your adventures–including fishing, hunting, and clamming. Make sure you check out local license requirements before attempting to forage for those items.

I’d love to hear of any foraging experiences you’ve had! Please share in the comments below.

 

Finding your Food

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Comments

4 responses to “Feast by Foraging”

  1. Isaac H. says:

    Great list Marina! We keep the Field and Stream Guide to Fishing (and their camping guide) as well as another of the Lone Pine botanical identification books for side table books in our home. They’re good reads, even for those of us that don’t go hiking nearly as much as we would prefer.

    • Marina M. says:

      Thanks for sharing, Isaac. It is hard sometimes to find time to go hiking and/or camping. Lucky for those of us living in this area is that when we decide to just go there are a lot of options that aren’t too far away.

  2. Our family of six was supported by my step-mom who worked long hours at her job with Hooker Chemical. So camping was our parents recreation of choice. Take the kids out to the woods, or the beach, or the Hoh rain forest, that will keep them busy and Mom and Dad can get a nap.

    • Marina M. says:

      Thanks for sharing your family’s camping experiences. It’s great that your family was so well versed in camping in so many locations.

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