I wasn't always mushroom obsessed. I was more or less a normal dad. Then one day my company relocated me, my wife, and our two kids from smoggy, hot, crowded Southern California, to beautiful, green Washington State.
And my kids were mad as heck at us for taking them away from all their friends. I found myself trying to think of fun and adventuresome things we could do in the Great Outdoors here to help the bitter pill go down easier and make them forget their friends.
And there's lots to do here. Fishing ... my daughter and I caught a really nice salmon in a local river. But I got tired of "combat fishing" -- fighting the crowds, waiting long hours for a fish to show up, paying stiff fees and memorizing fishing regulations. Hiking and mountainbiking is nice, and we did lots of that too. But then something else out there in the wilderness caught my eye ...
There were lots of them. They were beautiful. They were free. And they didn't run away.
But what about all those horror stories of people dying from mushroom poisoning? How could you figure out how to hunt (and prepare) them safely?
So we set about learning. We talked to experts, attended festivals, and spent lots of time reading books and researching the internet. But mostly, we got out into the wild.
And we fell in love! Mushrooms are amazing. There are so many different kinds, so many different flavors (not just the two or three that you get in the grocery stores, which are boring as heck by comparison), so many ways to prepare them. It was a challenge that would consume the next decade of our lives.
We also fell in love with the beautiful out-of-doors. There's nothing quite like hearing the rain pattering gently on the overhead canopy of fir trees, as you are stealthily hunting for that "perfect" mushroom below.
My daughter now lives in the state of Pennsylvania, where mushrooms aplenty also flourish. And my son and I not only hunt together, here in Washington state, but we also lead groups into the forest, teaching others how to hunt (and prepare) safely.
And we have begun widening the circle, hunting in places like Oregon, British Columbia, and elsewhere.
We have also begun both cultivating mushrooms in our own yard, as well as creating wonderful recipes that bring out the best in the many different varieties we "capture."
"Mushroom Obsession" is the result of this journey. I hope here to share what I've learned (and am learning), to document some of what I love best about mushroom hunting, cultivation, and preparation, as well as present for your own enjoyment many of the pieces of lore, artwork, etc. that revolve around that magical, mystical object that many of us love (and others hate) — the mushroom!
So, if you're not yet mushroom obsessed ... get ready to be!
P.S.: Also, here's the very important legal caveat ... I am NOT a professional mushroom hunter, I am a hobby hunter! Always seek the advice of a professional before hunting, collecting, and/or consuming any wild mushroom. Always make sure you are 100% certain of the identity of a wild mushroom you intend to consume. Always cook wild harvested mushrooms in a well-ventilated area thoroughly before eating! When consuming new, edible mushrooms for the first time, try a small amount and wait to ensure no negative side effects or allergic reactions occur. Even edible mushrooms can cause problems in people who are allergic to them. And even edible mushrooms can make you sick if insufficiently cooked.
If you are by nature an incautious person (like me), force yourself to be cautious when it comes to wild mushrooms. If in doubt, throw it out! Very few mushrooms can actually kill you, but even a single mushroom of the most toxic varieties can do just that.