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Honey Mushroom

September 15th, 2012

Honey mushroom, Armillaria mellea, found growing at the base of a dead oak, Bald Mountain Recreation Area North Parcel, Lake Orion, MI.

This is what I had for lunch yesterday, sauteed with garlic and tomato on toast. It’s the mushroom my Italian great-grandmother Domenica referred to as “the good-a kind-a”, the kind she used to take her children and grandchildren hunting in the woods around St. Moritz Ponds in Quincy: i.e. the kind that was most abundant, easiest to identify, tastiest. My grandfather has been nagging me to try this mushroom for years.

Funny, then, that of the 4 books I’ve consulted (including an old field guide of my grandfather’s), only one referred to it as a choice edible. The Peterson Edible Wild Plants doesn’t even mention it. I am warned that honey mushroom has several dangerous near look-alikes, and that even when it is positively identified, it doesn’t agree with everybody.

I thought it was delicious–four generations of my family have thought so. But that’s all the more reason for me to give you the same warning I always give: don’t go eating any mushrooms you find in the woods just because I did. Do the research first. Find an expert. And if you’re going to do it anyway, cook them first at the very least. Please?

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