Earlier this month I visited my mother in a small town in northern New Brunswick, and I always notice a wide variety of mushrooms all over her property. I thought it would be fantastic if there were someone I could ask about which types were edible, but it’s such a small town of mostly retirees that I didn’t even bother looking.
Imagine my delight when I went to the little town Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and found a man selling foraged mushrooms and wild herbs at his stall. Wonderful! I asked if he did tours. He said he did, but he was a little reluctant to do one in English, since he was most familiar with the names in French, but I really didn’t care. He would take me around the woods for a few hours and he would keep most of the mushrooms we found to sell, but I would go home with enough for a tasty dinner. Sounded fantastic to me!
The next weekend I drove to Quebec and met Rosaire at a Tourist Information stop. First, I showed him some mushrooms I had brought from my mom’s property, and I was happy to find that some were edible. Fortunately, I kept each variety separated from the others so that if I found that some were edible, I could eat them without worrying that they got poison cooties from the other types.
On with the tour! We went in Rosaire’s car where he had a hot tisane waiting for me made from a blend of herbs and flowers he foraged, and we went out to his secret spots in the woods. Don’t ask me where they are. I wasn’t driving, and I probably wouldn’t tell you anyway.
He brought baskets, retractable knives and a paintbrush. We cut the mushrooms with the knives and peeled off the dirty parts of each one before adding it to the basket. The paintbrush is for brushing off any loose dirt. Rosaire likes to clean them as he collects them because otherwise it’s a really big job at the end.
Before I show you all the cool mushrooms we found, I want to clarify that I’m not an expert so please don’t go rummaging around in the woods collecting mushrooms without consulting an expert. Some poisonous varieties look a lot like edible varieties, but I’m sure you already knew that. I had a great time on my mushroom tour and I highly recommend that you hire an expert to get started. It’s absolutely worth it.
I hope I’ve encouraged you to learn about mushrooms, but please consult an expert. There might be a mycological society in your area that can help you. The Nova Scotia Mycological Society holds an annual Foray with workshops and tours, which, coincidentally, starts today. Sorry you missed it. Keep them on your radar for next year.