According to mycology message boards, we're at the start of morel season. I successfully hunted these divine-tasting suckers last year in the Washington, D.C.-area, and>"/>
According to mycology message boards, we're at the start of morel season. I successfully hunted these divine-tasting suckers last year in the Washington, D.C.-area, and I was eager to give it a go in my new home, so this weekend I dragged a few friends out to look for morels. The basic plan was to head out I-90 for about an hour, find some woods, harvest bagfuls of the mother lode we were sure to find, then go home and gorge ourselves on aptly named Morchella deliciosa sauteed in lots of butter.
There was still snow on the ground in Cle Elum, and the air temperature was 35 degrees, so we turned around and retraced our route until our breath didn't condense. On the west side of Snoqualmie pass, we took a forest road into the hills, which seemed like good mushroom territory. After getting skunked, we trudged back to the car, where we were stopped by an older European gentleman who asked if we were lost. No, I explained, we were looking for mushrooms. I'm pretty sure you could hear him laughing in Bellevue. When he finally got himself together, he told me that we were way too early, even for spring mushrooms like morels.
On the way back to Seattle, we stopped at Twin Falls State Park, figuring we might as well get a hike out of the trip. That didn't stop me from scouring the woods for morels as I walked, though. I couldn't see any, and eventually I resigned myself to the fact that perhaps the old guy was right--we were just too early. Oh yeah, and the falls were pretty cool, I guess. Whatever.
Then, on the way down, just a few hundred yards from the parking lot, we ran into an Asian couple with a young daughter noodling along the edge of the path. My heart clenched when I noticed the baskets hangling from their arms--a sure sign of mushroom foragers. To my relief, the man only had greens in his basket, and I figured they were just picking shiso or Vietnamese balm or something. But then I glanced in the little girl's basket (I really, really wish I hadn't) and saw that she had about a dozen beautiful, fresh morels tucked into one end.
Reflexively, I asked the woman where they found the morels. She shot me a stinkeye and said, "Not here!"
As much of a punch in the gut that was, at least I know that morels are indeed out and about. I'm now more determined than ever to find them. And when I collect a shopping bag full of morels, I hope to run across that woman again. If she asks me where I found them, I know exactly what I'll say.