When I moved from New York back to my Great-Grandpa's farm in 1973, I looked for mushrooms at the West Jefferson A&P. You mean TOADSTOOLS?
One sunny morning on top of the hill I whooped with joy to find a fairy ring of delicate mushrooms with pale pink gills. A delicious basketful. (I knew enough to give a wide berth to a tempting pure white amanita at least six inches in diameter.)
Not able to count on the magic of fairy rings, I spread the dirt floor of the little chicken house with horse manure, ordered spawn from a company in Maryland and was rewarded with several decent crops.
Then came the shitakes, referred to at the time as "golden oak" mushrooms. Keeping tabs on the moisture level of oak logs, implanting the spawn and then waiting four to six months for the harvest. It was wonderful and led to a fairly major plantation, my own Lincoln Log development. There is a picture of the barn somewhere in the barn.
There is no length to which a foodie will not go!
That has all changed. At Ingle's a few weeks ago, I ran into a friend, "a man of the cloth," who had been gravely ill. He looked marvelous! Pointing up toward heaven, I suggested that it was good to have "connections." Shaking his head and smiling, he pointed to the carton of mushrooms in his cart.
Mythology and science seem reignited in health-giving claims.
It's really silly to offer mushroom recipes given the thousands of books and the ubiquitous internet. Not to mention the thousands of mushrooms. From raw to pickles to simple soups to mushroom charlottes, there is no end.
Leaving aside the wild - and wildly expensive - ones, a fast and simple soup is a terrific starter for almost any meal or for a meal in itself.
Saute chopped onions and/or shallots in butter. Add sliced creminis or champignons and cook gently until tender, a splash of sherry, then chicken broth (or vegetable if you have some with flavor) and finish with a slug of heavy cream. S and P of course. Serve as is or puree.
There is a Jean-Georges book called "Simple to Spectacular." (Did I mention the spectacular lunch we had there recently?) Anyway if you want to add an ounce or two of dried porcini mushrooms while simmering, it would not be bad! In that case, puree, of course.