I was walking my dog (and shivering because it was wicked windy and cold ) at the Charlestown Breachway this afternoon and ran into this interesting couple, who gave me a copy of their intriguing 2019 calendar/book, “Gourmet Mushrooms of the Northeast.” They were in search of snowy owls, so we chatted a bit about birds and then they produced the 48-page calendar from their car and handed it to me through the open window. Serendipity at its most serendipitous.
“They” turned out to be Ryan Bouchard and Emily Schmidt, founders of the Mushroom Hunting Foundation, an organization devoted to the study and safe consumption of wild mushrooms. The couple also conducts workshops and seminars on finding and identifying wild mushrooms. I wish I had thought to ask them how they fell so deeply into this passion, but my fingers were too cold to hold a pen.
In addition to detailed color photos of mushrooms, there’s a wealth of information, including an interesting piece on the history of wild mushroom-hunting in Rhode Island. Here’s a cool page showing everything you need for a hunting expedition.
Each month features gorgeous photos of a particular species, a calendar and a detailed description of the mushroom. Here is October’s mushroom of the month: Hen of the woods.
The authors do not encourage people to just head into the woods, find mushrooms and eat them. There is a clear warning about consuming species you are not familiar with and even possible allergies to mushrooms which are normally considered safe to eat.
Here’s the May mushroom, a lovely species called “Pheasant Polypore.” Even if you never harvest a single one of the mushrooms in this calendar/book, it’s still a lovely thing to hang on a wall.
More information on the calendar and the foundation is available here:
Editor’s note: The mushroom hunters responded to my musing about how they became so passionate about wild mushrooms. Here’s the comment:
“It was a pleasure meeting you and thank you for featuring us in your blog!,” Emily Schmidt wrote. ” To answer your question, we fell so deeply into this passion because after sampling the flavor of our first wild mushroom, we were utterly hooked. The flavor of the wild varieties are so much different (and in my opinion much better and more complex) than store bought varieties. We knew we had to learn how to collect more of them.”