Warning: Repeat posting because yesterday was glorious, almost seventy. The warmth evoked memories and a craving. This is a blog from last May.
It’s that time of year when weirdly addicted persons go grubbing through the forests and fields for the morchella. If you like them, the crave for this specific fungi takes hold with something like zombie overdrive, hands extended, staggering blindly through the undergrowth, chanting, “Must have morels.”
As a girl, I remember Dad driving us home from doing something at the Ferry Landing on the Mississippi. No one in the car made a comment about the man walking along the country road without his shirt and pants. He’d tied the trouser and sleeve cuffs into knots and stuffed them full of morels. The only thought on anyone’s mind who saw this was: where did he find them and are there any left?
Wisconsin born, I came into the world preprogrammed to need to feed on a morel by the end of April. Since I no longer live in WI, I drive to the only local place I know of that sells them. Some years ago, I stupidly clued in my grandkids about morels (dipped them in egg and cracker crumbs then fried them in butter). Now they hunt them and keep them for themselves. No morel-lover assigns blame for this kind of selfishness. It’s normal. Picking spots are handed down through families, guarded to the death. Go ahead. Ask somebody where they found theirs. Good luck with that.
Last year I broke the piggy bank and bought big. Two weeks ago, I almost wept with joy to find a frozen pouch in the back of the freezer. Yum. It saved me from the zombie resurrection stage. The tasty treat allowed me to drive with a semblance of normal behavior to the buying place and snatch up a bag of gorgeous ones (brought in from Wisconsin!!!) and they were a bargain at forty bucks a pound.
I scurried home with my cache, soaked them in salted water as my mother taught me, patted the lovelies dry, cast the wash water into the back yard (it NEVER goes down the drain), and began to fry them up in butter in my grandmother’s cast iron skillet. All the while standing there in pre-eating euphoria, I gleefully estimate that I have enough for freezing a bag, eating some, and saving the stems and juice for scrambled eggs the next day.
The first taste is sublime. Have to have one more. While moaning through the second and third, it comes to mind what my brother calls my potato salad: a controlled substance. There is no stopping. Potato chips have nothing on morels, especially when there’s an addict hovering over the frying pan.
So, yes, I ate the whole damn batch. And you know what? Hit me again. They’re still picking up north, so maybe I can find some more. I have no shame when it comes to morels. Love’em, or leave’em for me.
M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)
Follow on Twitter @RigdonML