I don’t like mushrooms. They kind of freak me out. All that earthy flavor packed into crazy shapes that grow on dead and rotting things. Good for nature – yes. Good on my plate – not so sure. As a young child I ate mushrooms no problem, then things changed. It’s a long story how I came to scorn ‘shrooms – it involves an older cousin, a pizza, and talk of maggots. Needless to say ever since that fateful day I have passed on the fungus. No thank you, not for me.
How odd then that this post is about the Wild Mushroom Festival at the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic, CT on Sunday, Sept. 27 from 2 to 6pm. I’ll admit, I’m intrigued. It’s kind of like when you watch a horror movie. You’re scared and yet still watch, albeit from behind your hands.
But this event draws a huge crowd – over 500 people last year! Local restaurants and creative chefs whip all kind of mushroom dishes. On last year’s menu was: truffled parmesan risotto with wild mushrooms, scalloped wild mushrooms with leeks, lobster mushrooms and chicken-of-the-woods with roasted garlic and sage over pappardelle pasta, and get this, wild mushroom capuccino!
Co-sponsored by the Connecticut Valley Mycological Society, the festival isn’t just about eating, it’s about learning too. There will be guided walks and talks by guest lecturers explaining the ecological role of mushrooms. One of the talks will be by Ecovative Design, a NY-based company that’s developed compostable packaging material and organic insulation made from fungal mycelium. That sounds pretty cool.
So it appears there is fungus among us … but will I conquer my fear and eat it. This festival may just be my ticket back into the wide world of mushrooms.