Sunday, April 27, 2008

Of May Apples and Morels

The woods are alive in the spring with delights for all the senses. Birds greet the day with a chorus of song. Bushes bloom with perfume of lilac, azalea and viburnum. Pathways seem to be lined with every hue of flower; bluebells, tall phlox, spring beauties, trilliam, dog tooth violets, columbines, firecracker pinks and if you get down to the ground and peer under the leaves, may apple blossoms. Looking down from above, you'll miss them as they hide under the spreading umbrella of the may apple leaves. Like so many other treasures of nature, you have to know where to look.

And so it is with morels. I've never been good at finding morels, living instead off the kindness of friends who would rather share their bounty than reveal their secret hunting ground. Locally the season is almost over. Farther north should still be going after a good rain. A few years ago, morels even started showing up in select grocery stores. Well, that does take some of the fun out of it, but take advantage while the season's still here. Morels have a culture all their own; not just a distinct texture and flavor. A great deal of folklore and more than a smidgen of mysticism define the morel. They bring good fortune, they are an aphrodisiac, they insure good harvest, they make women conceive male children, dried and powdered they are in love potions and health tonics... sounds like they could save the world! Personally, I think that a little butter and garlic and a saute´pan is magic enough to save my morel world. From the forest to the kitchen, salute once more the spring.

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