Sue and I drove over to Moore Farm in Alton Saturday morning 08/25/18 to take a mushroom identification and foraging class. Sue knows Kim of Moore Farm, and learned about the class on one of her visits over there.
When we got there at 10:00 am, we were glad to see that our friend Cathy was able to join us with the small group assembled. Paul, our instructor, was so descriptive of how you identify mushrooms, and of the medicinal qualities many of them had, as well as those that were either inedible or poisonous.
I think I'd be happy just to be able to identify a few types that we could pick on some of our walks, and then have them for dinner. Sue, on the other hand, would pick them all. In fact, after we got back home, she took Beau out into the woods for a walk, and came back with handfuls of Black Trumpets, Old Man of The Woods, and Turkey Tail. We are overwhelmed with mushrooms....
The table we were seated at in a small room to the back of Kim's shop was filled with example mushrooms that Paul had brought with him. As he spoke, he referenced each one, describing how its characteristics made it unique to the others. Just on that table there must have been over a dozen different types. To the uninformed eye, like me, they all just look like... well, mushrooms. I felt pretty numb because everyone else there had either a little knowledge, or were pretty informed.
It's really a fascinating subject, but in leafing through several of the massive reference books that Paul had brought with him, I'd say you'd have to really dedicate yourself to a study of them if for no other reason than not knowing something might cause you to pick a variety that would make you very, very sick.
After spending well over an hour hunched over the table going through the specifics of identification, we all paraded out into the woods behind Kim's shop. Paul led the way, constantly pointing out different mushrooms for us to check out. Most times, he'd stop and discuss the particular characteristics of one, comparing it to some of the previous types we had come across.
I am so totally ignorant of mushrooms, other than what Sue had shared with me, and the very basic introductory information I had just learned, that I didn't embarrass myself by asking what would only be really, really stupid questions, or at best, quite pedestrian observations.
I had fun, but could have done without almost being consumed by mosquitoes that seemed to swarm around us whenever we'd stop to listen to Paul chat about something he had picked. I did get a few good pictures of the group, so I wasn't totally useless to the effort. And at this point, I can now not only confidently spot Black Trumpets, but can cook them up like you wouldn't believe. My next task is to try to prepare the Old Man of The Woods. That will be later this week because, as I mentioned, Sue came back with a load of them and proclaimed that's what we'd be doing. Thus, it will be so....
We didn't get out of the woods until almost 1:30, about an hour and a half longer than the class was supposed to have bee. But everyone had so many questions, and were having so much fun, the time just slipped away.