During our last trip to Baddeck, Nova Scotia we discovered a new passion for mushrooms. There were so many colorful mushrooms on the trails of Big Hill Retreat where we were renting a cabin. It all started with sending pictures to Dami’s friend who was able to correctly identify the Chanterelles. After further investigating – to make sure they really were Chanterelles and not look-a-likes – we went back to the woods with our bag and gathered some for our dinner. We were amazed that such bright mushrooms were edible. They were delicious and the best tasting mushrooms we’ve ever tasted. We tried them first cooked in a butter and had them in a beef stew that day.
We went back twice to gather some more and had them with ground beef and egg noodles, and with a pesto pasta and chicken dish. We brought back the rest home in a lunch paper bag and had them with a shrimp and vegetable curry and with a kale, pumpkin and potato soup.
While visiting The Highland National Park we bought a field guide on mushrooms although we weren’t able to identify the ones we saw on our walk to Benji’s lake. The field guide is a great addition to the two other books we have of the same collection that will most likely grow: Peterson Field Guides on Medicinal Plants and Herbs, and Edible Wild Plants. With the book we were able to identify the mushrooms we have growing on our own property, the poisonous fly agaric (amanita muscaria) that our squirrels and chipmunks just love. The red squirrel gathers them on top of our spruce tree and the chipmunk brings them in to her nest; both of them pick the mushrooms when they turn black and start fermenting.: kind of like cheese for them!
We now have a better understanding as to why we were always told as kids that all wild mushrooms are poisonous. Many of the dangerous toxins in mushrooms are odorless and tasteless and are not neutralized in cooking. Some of the deadliest mushrooms even have a sweet smell! One interesting fact is that we have more mushroom varieties in North America than in Europe and that Europeans that visit North America often get ill while mistakenly picking look-a-likes. Needless to say we had dreams of mushrooms for many days…