Hunting for Mushrooms

Michael Parke, Staff Writer

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    Mushroom hunting, or mushroom picking, is an activity not readily associated with those at Milford High, but there is at least a small band of students and staff that engage in the pastime.

 

    “The name ‘mushroom’ has been given to over 38,000 varieties of fungi that possess the same thread like roots and cap,”* and for many, many years they have enthralled and terrified people. There is the truffle, the cream of the crop, a mushroom usually found using truffle hogs or lagotti in wooded areas in Europe; but then there is the death cap, a mushroom whose name speaks for itself. And of course, there are those unspeakable kinds that take the consumer… places. Innocent enough is the act of foraging for the little things. It’s an activity that involves going outside and searching for the right ones, often accompanied by a book of some sort written by an expert or an expert himself. Although not professionals, there are some qualified for the hobby here at MHS.

 

     For three years now, Mr. Molinari and Mr. Bon Tempo have been inviting and taking trips with students and other teachers alike to the fields for edible, rubbery organisms to eat or to have in the classroom for students to ogle at until brought home. (And as an aside, Mr. Molinari likes them “sautéed with a little butter,” and Mr. Bon Tempo recommends the internet for recipes—he recently began drying them to eat in the off-season. Delicious.) When I asked Mr. Molinari about who he invites out, he replied “Usually science [classes], but even classes that are doing ‘nature journals’ or finance classes learning about the value of natural resources.” And the teachers don’t stop at school. During their free time the two are often around Blackstone Valley; and I have no doubt that between the intense moments Mr. Bon Tempo has during his hunting trips, he is on the lookout for a delectable wild mushroom to complement his pheasant and glass of merlot.

 

     The aforementioned expert is a must for any expedition lest the trekker wants to die or have a completely different kind of trip. Four percent of mushrooms are the kind that people actually pay for. When I asked about the rest, Mr. Bon Tempo said that fifty percent of mushrooms are inedible, twenty-five percent edible, twenty percent poisonous and one percent are just flat out deadly. (This information, by the way, aligns with the consensus of other hunters around the world.) Aside from the risk of getting a foul mushroom and the off chance you see a bear looking into the same log you spotted the morel in, the drawbacks aren’t many. In fact, there’s the chance that money is made in this endeavour, which is what happened when the group found a fifteen pound hen-of-the-woods that was worth, by Mr. Molinari’s estimate, two to three hundred dollars.

 

     But for Milford High’s veterans the thrill often lies in the hunt itself, not the money. It is a way to build upon one’s knowledge and is a basis for commonality. And although not yet a club, there are ways to get into this community. Mr. Molinari recommended either joining a club outside of school hours or joining them on a trip. Either way, the opportunities are aplenty—and so are the mushrooms.

 

* http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/edible-mushrooms/

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