Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Hunting Morels from the Perennial Plate
One of my favorite meals of all time was from my childhood. Cast-Iron Morel Mushrooms in Butter over steak... in the woods, on a camp-stove, with my dad on a turkey hunting trip in the hills of Pike County, Ohio. We spent the day walking the hills in the forest looking for turkeys, and found a good patch of morels along the way! We filled our pockets and a hat with them, and continued on.
We used to go specifically Mushroom Hunting around the woods around the family land on the Blanchard River as a little kid. I would be following my dad or grandfather along the railroad and down into the woods, usually finding more briars and burrs than mushrooms, but being 3 ft tall did help with the view, however. We would find enough to cook for dinner, and that would be enough. Sometimes we would find enough for gifts to relatives or to eat later. More often than not they didn't last longer than that evening. It was a rare and special occasion.
Being a young kid, I didn't have the evolved tastebuds yet, and didn't like the flavor of the mushroom. It probably had more to do with their alien landscape appearance, and pungent aroma than flavor, but I didn't really give them a chance. By the time I was older and we went hunting for turkeys, I had developed a bit more refined taste. I was hesitant, but the smell of the butter in the pan with the perfume of those morels was amazing. Paired with some local steak medalions from a little store down the road seared in the same pan, in the same butter, and topped with those mushrooms.... devine. The scenery, the day, the chill in the air as the sun set on the other side of the hill, the fog rolling in from over the crest of the ridge across the lake. It was truly a unique and amazing experience. Nothing fancy, no extras, no tablecloths. It was perfect.
I've been addicted to The Perennial Plate series of episodes lately, about Chef Daniel Klein in Minneapolis who creates the adventure of sustainably sourcing his food to show the viewer the appreciation for where our food comes from. It's incredibly enlightening, and insightful with weekly episodes chronicling his adventures in food. Episode 7 specifically, is about the sourcing of Morel mushrooms, and subsequently what led me to reminisce about the hunting trip with my father in the woods and one of my favorite meals of all time.
The Perennial Plate Episode 7: Hunting Morel Mushrooms from Daniel Klein on Vimeo.
I'm in the process of starting from the beginning and watching every single episode in order. I would recommend the same!