I am giddy with excitement over discovering the Rogers Mushrooms website. Since living in New England, I have increasingly become more and more aware of the bounty of mushrooms and fungi everywhere. I am not sure if this is a particularly New England thing, or if perhaps as I get older I have become more observant, but it sure seems like there is bounty of mushrooms right under our noses.
Since moving here six years ago, I have witnessed, on many occasions, mushroom pickers in residential Boston neighborhoods. Usually non-english speaking and presumably immigrant workers, I have watched them drive pickups up and down suburban streets to gather some sort of mushroom from gardens and roadside locations.
Captivated by the idea of foraging – particularly urban and suburban foraging, and also in NEED of a good mushroom vendor (because I think of mushrooms as ‘needs’) – I have also been introduced to an elusive individual that collects wild mushrooms near where I live. Apparently he makes a living selling his haul to many fine restaurants in NYC. I am still trying to get him to come to my Farmers Market.
And finally, on a hike with my children in a gorge near my house a few years ago, we saw so many mushrooms I still find the story unbelievable today (and it is my story). In the course of perhaps 2 hours, we saw a mushrooms that represented every color of the rainbow and easily 25 or more obviously different and fascinatingly different varieties. It was in my pre-phone camera days and I still wish I had been able to document the findings of that hike. Utterly amazing.
In my own garden I have accidentally grown what I am sure are morels, and at least ten or so other varieties – but have never been brave enough to eat them.
So what does all this add up to?
A huge desire to learn more. I want so badly to walk the woods with the mushroom forager, or even the Boston streets with the mushroom collectors. I want to learn from them and feel confident about identifying varieties and taking them home to feed my family – or at least not shriek in panic when my young son picks them up to ‘play kitchen’ with them. Until I have that opportunity though, I am going to be putting Rogers Mushrooms through its paces as my newest research site.
The pictures are clear and clean and give me confidence that I might make proper identifications. And perhaps armed with a bit more knowledge in mycology, I hope I might be able to dispel a little of my own fear.
I have always wondered if anything else even looks like a morel mushroom. Is it possible that this mushroom is so distinct that there is no possible way to mistake it for something that will kill me? Oh, I hope so. I am off to learn more….
And just to make a useful note, it seems like rogers has a similarly useful pair of sites for identifying trees and shrubs as well as roses. Rogers trees and shrubs and Rogers roses — and all three are free!!