Mushroom Hunting

Don't eat the purple ones.

It’s fun, it’s healthy, it’s educational, and there’s only a small chance it will result in your slow, agonizing death. It’s mushroom hunting, and Fabio Martini can be your guide.

Neither fashion designer nor international spy, Martini is a genial, bearded young man who is part of a group called Urban Zucchini, dedicated to urban food cultivation. His passion is mushrooms. Martini can teach you how to grow shiitakes in logs, or he can take you on a forest tour to seek out nature’s bounty—spore-shedding fungi sprouting from dead logs that will not kill you if you know what you’re doing. What were we waiting for?

One Sunday, Martini led a small group into the heart of Cypress Falls Park in search of forest gnome real estate. Cypress Falls Park is one of the Lower Mainland’s hidden treasures, a patch of old growth accessed off exit #4 on Upper Levels Highway westbound. With Martini there to open our eyes, it was remarkable just what fungal diversity was all around. Delicious chanterelles, honey mushrooms, and angel wings were soon filling a kitchen-bound bag, but a far greater variety were staying right where we found them. Martini was providing us with an education that soon had us appreciating such mushroomy qualities as slime and gills. “Don’t eat the purple ones” was a piece of advice I could probably have intuited but it was still reassuring to have an expert on-board.

Mushrooms are a neglected yet vital element of the forest ecosystem. Some scientists think mushrooms may even allow trees to communicate with each other beneath the forest floor. A forest mushroom tour was a great way to learn about mushrooms, but an even better way to spend an afternoon in a pocket of British Columbia’s urban wilderness.

Soon our harvest would become a sumptuous feast. Or so I assume—I didn’t mess with them myself. But later, when I cracked a can of cream of mushroom, it was with a whole new appreciation for the contents.

Contact Fabio Martini at [email protected]


Post Date:

November 4, 2014