Rain is friendly to Switzerland. Autumn is particularly wet and friendly to mushrooms. Two weeks ago Petra, Mia and I went on a search for pilze. An hour train ride took us to an area many New Yorkers would call the woods. Except here the woods are as ubiquitous as skyscrapers. Less than 20 minutes into our 5-hour long walk we encountered a mine of mushrooms. It was pilze heaven. Sprouting under large pine and maple trees, these mushrooms peeked out of the brown dirt like an alien invasion. Out of almost 5,000 types of mushrooms, less than 200 are edible. Although Petra can tell the edible ones from the poisonous ones because she has studied them for years, we went to the mushroom controller to be sure.
Near the river bank, in a small Zürich office that cannot be larger than 30 square meters, two men carefully inspect mushrooms brought in by folks like us, to give the yay or nay. Tired but excited trekkers pour their mushroom collection into large plastic trays ready for inspection. It is mainly volunteer work, and as one of the controllers said, after I asked, the state pays enough to cover his bus ride. It is the love of mushrooms that moves these volunteers. It is the wonderful feeling of searching and finding your own food, I think. Of all the mushrooms we picked, about 90% were good. More than half of the discarded ones were not poisonous but had gone bad. With a small knife he sliced a piece to show us how the normally white mushroom had turned yellow inside: a rotten sign.
He recommended to use the brown reddish ones as food accents. Their taste is so strong that one should just grate some of it into food as a condiment. Others were good to eat entirely. That night Petra cooked pasta with mushroom sauce and salmon. The mushrooms tasted like fresh produce from the earth. Strong and delicate at the same time. Delicious and rewarding. Enjoy the pictures and Guten Appetit!