Treasures of Little Egypt: Local Mushrooms
Joe McFarland, coauthor with Gregory Mueller of the beautiful University of Illinois Press book Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois and Surrounding States: A Field-to-Kitchen Guide, will lead a delectable two-day workshop, the 2012 Giant City Early Summer Wild Mushroom Foray, Friday and Saturday, June 8 and 9 at SIU’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center just north of Giant City State Park.
McFarland, who works as an outdoor writer for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, has a great sense of humor, and his book contains breezy, informative prose and gorgeous, full-color photography.
Edible Wild Mushrooms makes clear that Southern Illinois is home to some of the tastiest fungi on the planet-- even people who say they don’t like mushrooms may find themselves stunned by the firm textures and kind flavors of, say, hen-of-the-woods or chicken mushrooms, which feel and taste nothing like the slimy, button-shaped species that industrial canneries pack into jars for distribution to grocery stores. But a few extremely toxic mushrooms also grow in the area, too, like the lethal destroying angel, as well as inedible mushrooms that can cause extraordinarily painful indigestion and other undesirable culinary experiences. The Wild Mushroom Foray will help participants differentiate the delicious from the deadly.
The event includes campfires at Touch of Nature, a seminar about mushroom hunting and identification, mushroom-hunting hikes, kids’ programs, and a mushroom dinner at Creekside Grill at Stone Creek Golf Course.
“The kids activities include hands-on demonstrations for growing golden oyster mushrooms on recycled newspaper,” McFarland tells Nightlife. “A few lucky participants get to take home grow-your-own kits they'll prepare themselves during the workshop. Also, there will be spore-print making demos for kids-- a helpful mushroom identification trick for anyone.”
As McFarland writes on his website, "People have been foraging in nature for as long as there have been people. Somehow, we forgot. Not enough of us get outdoors anymore, not like we used to. We’ve lost our way. But foraging for wild mushrooms is still as natural as anything we humans can do. Here’s your chance to rediscover your place out there. Invite your friends. Get out there and join us."
Everything is free except for food and lodging, but space is limited, and those who wish to attend should register at <http://IllinoisMushrooms.com> or call Touch of Nature at (618) 453-1121. In addition, those who wish to attend the dinner should make reservations at Stone Creek at (618) 351-4653.
who: Joe McFarland
what: Early Summer Wild Mushroom Foray
where: Touch of Nature Environmental Center; Creekside Grill at Stone Creek Golf Course
when: Friday and Saturday, June 8 and 9