Dan Stockwell Jr. is my mushroom man. A stalwart New Englander, Dan forages our forests for his harvest and is happy to bring it to a market not quite ready for his treasures. You see, in other countries, in other counties, wild mushroom men are revered for their knowledge.
To hear Dan tell it, wild mushrooms can change the world. He showed me one recently that he says "has been shown to work successfully in treating lung cancer as well as other cancers".
In addition to that information, Dan told me it is also fantastic as an "instant starter" for a fire. It will inhale and grow a flame quickly and reliably. Handy to know if you are in the woods and need to keep warm or cook in a hurry.
Answering my delight at finding his basket of impossibly huge formations of mushrooms, he revealed that when he comes across these particular mushrooms he dances for joy. Hence the name of this fantasmagorical fungi is "Dancing Mushroom". This is just ONE mushroom.
The weather lately has been perfect for mushrooms, nice and rainy and warm.
I remember when I lived in Paris I would be taken by friends outside of the city after a few days of rain to park and then walk into the forests around Versailles to forage for wild mushrooms. We would gather them in baskets, nothing as exotic looking as Dan's mushrooms, and take them direcly to the pharmacy. Pharmacies in France are licensed to pick out the mushrooms that could be poisonous and assure harvesters that they would not go home with one that was not edible.
I remember going home and sauteing them in just some butter and fresh garlic then pouring beaten eggs over them to gently fold into a heavenly scramble we would consume with wine and a crusty baguette.
Dan's day job has nothing to do with mushrooms, and he seems to really have very little interest in making money from them—more interested by far in engaging you in conversation about his first love: mushrooms.
He appears also far more interested in educating you and opening up one of his books about mushrooms to show you a picture or description. Note the caption below the book on the right "how mushrooms can help save the world."
I finally came around to buying some after talking and touching and cooing over what he had found (foraged). Just look at this white one! It almost looks like undersea coral. Beautiful! Really beautiful.
So what did I take home? This beautiful yellow one!
I sliced them vertically, sauteed them in oil, salt and then a bit of butter and ate them simply with crusty baguette slices.
I know from My Mushroom Man that mushrooms can heal, can delight, can light fires, and have produced amazing health related feats. I thank him for teaching me that. And for foraging so that I can bring the the forest into my kitchen, into my home, and into my heart.