Horns of Plenty

I’m an amateur mushroom forager–like, there are about three species I’m confident enough to identify and eat. Of those, far and away my favorite are horns of plenty (aka black trumpets or the delightfully named “trumpet of the dead”).

They look terrible. Under the best of conditions they’re like brownish-black petunias growing through the forest mulch. More often they just look like crumpled up rotten leaves, far less attractive than their better-known relative the common and baby-aspirin-orange chanterelle.

But my god, the flavor! I think technically it’s umami, but the best word I know to describe it is deep. I take a bite and it’s like I’m going down, and down, a woodsy abyss of savory deliciousness. The few bites I’ve had of morels didn’t compare. They’re not incredibly rare, but their unprepossessing appearance makes them hard to spot.

Fortunately, my daughter has developed a mushroom eye, and found a great patch on our hike today. Once we knew they were there, we sharpened our gaze, and by the end of the hike we’d found another half-dozen patches and had filled up a hastily-emptied Cheezit box.

I sauteed half in butter and salt and gave them to the kids to eat on toast; they gobbled it up.

With the remainder I made a forager’s pesto: I caramelized some onions, added the mushrooms, sauteed them in butter and oil, added salt, herbs, toasted walnuts, garlic, and a little red wine, then grated some parmesan on top and minced it all fine.

It’s among the best things I’ve ever eaten. As strong as those other flavors are, they’re just the legs of the pedestal on which the trumpet of death shines.

I suppose maybe this should go in MPSIMS, since I’m just bragging about my amazing dinner, but it’s food, so it goes here.

What have y’all foraged lately?