Stalking Porcini - Or How Mushrooms Caused Me to Engage in All Seven Deadly Sins

Quick, someone take me to confessional, because I need to be absolved!  My obsessive hunting of Boletus rubriceps, also known as Rocky Mountain porcini, has caused me to commit all seven deadly sins.  But don't judge, I'm neither the first nor the last to fall due to love of wild edible mushrooms.  And don't let the dazzling pictures or descriptions of mushrooms in this post persuade you to go out and find your own.  Take this as a cautionary tale, folks.*

Lust - There's a reason why mushroomers so often refer to their prize in terms of romance and sexual imagery.  When the summer monsoons come, chiming the opening bell of porcini season, I start to burn with desire. But just one look at a B. rubriceps of the Rockies, with its wine-colored cap, creamy pores, and finely netted stalk, and you will understand the lure of its physical beauty.  And just one whiff of a porcini - smelling like a mashup of baby skin, loam, and rain on pavement - is all you need to know what it means to be a creature of this earth, a fleshy lust-filled mortal, born of dirt and returning in the end.

Greed - You know, I try to be a good person; I do.  I smile, I say kind things, I try to lend a hand.  But when it comes to mushrooms, I won't lie, I'm greedy.  Not only do I want a few porcini to nibble, I want them all.  I'll tell you that I'm over the moon just to be in the woods.  I'll say it's my goal to collect enough for a few good meals.  Don't believe a word of it, friends.  I want every darned porcini that I can get my hands on, so that I can continue to stuff them down my pie hole, one after another, all winter long.  And I'm not above using devious tactics either.  I've gone to great lengths to teach my family, friends, and neighbors how to spot B. rubriceps, and to report back to me if they should come across any.  But I'm always certain to taint these lessons with warnings about how eating wild mushrooms does come with the risk or illness and even death, so they don't dare to take any for themselves.

Sloth - Ok, so my house is always a bit of a pit.  But lately, it's become a real craphole.  This is in part due to the fact that I like to spend my free time lounging under a tree, fancying myself the Rockies' answer to Rene Redzepi, creating whimsical mushroom recipes beautiful enough to be museum pieces.  No seriously, I could sooo do that.  I'm the creative type, after all.  Which, by the way, is my usual excuse for messiness.  But add porcini obsession into the mix, and dishes and dust seem to fade into the background.  Don't worry, though, I do clean the toilet regularly, so it's still safe to visit, k?

Envy -  The other day, a friend told me that someone had come home from the high altitude mixed conifer forests with 70 lbs of porcini.  Did I think, yay mushrooms, go team!  Uh, no.  I was burning with jealousy, the kind that causes you to see spots and get heartburn.  Why can't I find the sweet spot, the mother lode? Why can't I be the person who comes home with 70 lbs of porcini?  Why, why, why, why???  (hang on a sec while I shut the curtains so that nobody can see me rolling around on the floor, pounding my fists)

Wrath - And don't think I possess simple jealousy when it comes to this 70 lb mushroom snatching freak.  Oh no.  I want to hunt him down, tape him to a chair, drop some water onto his forehead in a effort to make him tell me where to find that poricni patch, and then make away with his mushrooms.  Wa-ha, take that you stinking mushroom hog!  I win, sucka!  And sadly, this little fantasy isn't my only brush with wrath.  It seems that I may have warned more than one mushrooming companion with physical violence should they bag more than me.  But I plead the fifth.  Maybe it was someone else who threatened to konk Erica over the head, or brawl with Julia in the forest.

Pride - I'm pretty sure that I'm the best porcini hunter to ever tread the forest floors, just saying.  Who else can spot a porcini knuckling out of the ground from a speeding car?  Who else has an uncanny ability to sense the very vibrations of B. rubriceps emerging?  Oh yeah, that's me (cue the super power music) Mushroom Woman!

And finally, of course, there is...

Gluttony - Porcini mushrooms are prized the world over for their superior flesh and flavor.  Now that I've had the Rocky Mountains' finest, I'm forever ruined for simple grocery store buttons.  The flavor of wild porcini is buttery and full, tasting of chestnuts, ham, and wood.  Porcini are so delicious that I want to eat them breakfast, lunch, dinner, on a boat, on a train, and in the rain!  I want to eat them served over pasta, on pizza, in eggs, and with steak.  I want to cozy up to a bowl of deer stew enriched with dried B. rubriceps.  I want to experiment with porcini powder, and oil, and even infused-alcohol.  And most of all, I want to eat those delicious gems, sauteed in gallons of butter, with a smidge of feral garlic and bee balm.


Sigh, here I was supposed to dissuade you from falling for porcini, to spare you the the possibility of committing these same deadly sins.  But I can't do it, because the taste of freshly foraged wild porcini mushrooms is positively bewitching, and well worth risking eternal damnation.  So, if you get the chance, hook up with an experienced mushroom hunter or your local mycological society, and forage some Boletus edulis for yourself.

 *Ok, you got me.  That was just another attempt to have all the mushrooms to myself.

I'm sharing this one with Real Food Wednesday, and Pennywise Platter Thursday.

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