When I was a youth, spring in Iowa meant many things…the river would rise, oats would be planted, calves would be born, and the morels mushrooms would be popping up in the woods!
Everyone had their favorite place to hunt the spongy little gems, and so often it was their secret passed down to family and maybe a close friend. It was that way with blackberry patches too!
To hunt morels, you need to find some rotting or decaying, if you like that term better…logs. Once you’ve spotted one, there’s usually more in the same area.
I can’t explain the euphoria that comes when you spied their golden, wrinkled little heads. I’d plucked them from the earth and tenderly place them in my bag, bucket, or basket as I would a new-born baby. They are extremely delicate and brittle.
Once we got them home and established the bragging rights to the largest collection or individual mushroom, we’d dust them tenderly, roll them in egg and flour, then fry them up in an iron skillet… in BUTTER!
OMG…you have never had anything land on your tongue with such a spiritual sensory delight! When we fixed morels, that was our main course because they are so rich and filling. It’s easy to OD on them if you not careful.
To give you an example of how much I love these little fungi, I’ll tell you a story about my dad, and morels.
It’s 1968… it’s spring, I’m living in trailer (mobile home) in York, Nebraska with my husband… I get a package in the mail. It’s a large brown-wrapped package. Inside is a Tupperware container packed with dry ice, and inside that are these glorious morel mushrooms. Earlier in the week I had talked with my dad by phone and he was telling me about hunting mushrooms and how bountiful they were that year… anyway, to make a long story short, my sweet dad had packed up a gallon container of morels and sent them to me via Greyhound Bus… I was in heaven, and I think I cried a little too!
My dad was not a demonstrative man when it came to emotional expression, but the thought and love that went into that gesture has always been one of my fondest memories of him.
If you have never experienced the culinary high of morel mushrooms, I’m sorry for you!