09 June 2008

hooray for wild foods (ode to the fungi-licious)

Over the past couple of years I’ve heard grand tales of wild mushroom harvests at Bingi. Of platefuls of black-eared goodness gathered from the forest. Of such quantities that after eating them fresh, stewing and freezing, stewing and freezing, the surplus was (horror!) given away. Each year I’ve salivated from afar. So naturally, I’ve dreamed about mushroom season since arriving here... two months ago (more horror!). I was convinced the first fungi would flourish the day I uprooted for Tassie. And that I would again be left pouting. By the grace of the wild food gods, I was wrong.

Enter, my current lust, the forest mushroom. The season has burst, big-time. Every afternoon for the past four days I’ve been mushrooming. Yesterday’s bonanza: two trays of too-good-to-be-true, russety helmets:

Days have vanished in ode to the ‘shroom. Aside from the ritual gathering, there’s been much daydreaming about how to eat them. On stoneground wholemeal pizzas with thyme, pinenut and pecorino was a good start. Now, for the perfect soup recipe...

In my love-state I've been marvelling at the perfection of wild foods: nourishment superior in every way to the tasteless offerings of industrial agriculture. These are poor-man’s truffles. Picked and eaten same day. I walk and breathe fresh air to gather them. Consequently I meet the locals (who invite me to extend my rounds to their paddocks). No carbon emissions, chemicals, fertilizers, cleared land, water diversions, embodied energy or waste. And what was that about a free lunch?!

Am fully aware of my near-delirium over the mushroom thing. (No, they are not magic.) As with most little joys, there is a flipside. Given my current, subversive, sucks-to-the-dominant-consumerist-ideology thinking – and to further illustrate the complete bureaucratic stupidity of the current paradigm, in case you needed more evidence – I will add that gathering wild foods from public land is illegal. In fact, gathering anything from public land is illegal.

Rather than coil and rant about the abject wrongness of this, I will continue to simply appreciate that which graces the roadside!

[Disappears down a dirt road in full swoon.]

No comments: