Sunday, August 24, 2014


I like mushrooms. I am searching for mushroom soup recipes right now and I got to thinking about the mushrooms I like.

Once in the fall on the foggy mountains of Umbria, I saw an old Italian man and his dog searching for the elusive and potently tasty black truffles. It was truffle season and soon the entire mountain would be covered with aged Italians with wisdom gathering this bounty from the ground.

Once, my husband and his friend and I went searching for tree mushrooms. They are known as oyster mushrooms and they are edible. Though they can be tough, if you cook them in broth and butter for a while, plus garlic of course, they were supposed to be tasty. Our friend had learned about which mushrooms were poisonous but he wasn't typically a pay-attention type, so this was a big adventure for us, both gathering food direct from the earth and also relying on our scatterbrained friend to tell us which shrooms were safe to eat.

Once in Maine outside my office, a humongous mushroom grew on a tree. It was not an oyster mushroom. We called our friend the mycologist Sam Ristich and he came over and told us about the mushroom. It was a polyporus squamosus, also edible. We didn't eat it. We just admired it. Until it grew so large it fell off the tree and then the snow came and covered it up.

Last fall we had days and days of rain. A mushroom patch sprung up under the tree. They were pretty mushrooms, unlike the oyster or dryad's saddle. They were perfect delicate little white mushrooms. I wanted to eat them in the worst way but I think they are poisonous. I believe they are from the amanita family and this genus has names like Destroying Angel and Death Cap. In my imagination I thought that the elves and fairies would live there and I called it Mushroom Town.

Here are the mushrooms I have known. Two photos are from Maine and the rest are from my yard in Georgia!


Anonymous said...

This talk of truffles reminds me of a fun, light but well-written book called A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle. Maybe you will like it, too. :) Melissa

Elizabeth Prata said...

Hi Melissa,

You're right, I did like it! I read it when it came out. Also Tim Parks, "Italian Neighbors", a Frances Mayes "Under the Tuscan Sun".

Mushrooms are interesting... They are a fungus. That we eat.

Anonymous said...


.8 ounces fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons onions, chopped
1 -2 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 -3 tablespoons flour (separated)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup light cream or 1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg



Cut the mushrooms into slices.


Melt butter in large frying pan. Add in onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook until onions are soft.


Blend in 2 T. flour and stir.


Add in the chicken broth and heat until slightly thickened while stirring frequently.


Stir cream with additional 1 T. flour and seasonings. Add in cream to soup. Heat to thicken while stirring frequently.


Serve and enjoy!

Elizabeth Prata said...

Anonymous, thank you! The recipe looks delicious. Would it work without cream? That's what I'm trying to avoid.

Anonymous said...

Neat pictures, thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth Chapman said...

Here's a link to a yummy mushroom soup:

Grace to You said...

We saw tons of those mushrooms clinging to the trees when we lived in Maine!

I love this:

"We didn't eat it. We just admired it. Until it grew so large it fell off the tree and then the snow came and covered it up."

I can just imagine you saying that so matter-of-factly - "and that was that" - in a Maine accent. :D