It’s that time of year again – when the weather conditions are usually just right for porcini mushrooms to make an appearance. There is no better time for mushroom hunting in southern Italy than the early fall – more specifically between August and October. Sure, the weather can be a bit unpredictable alternating between sunny warm days and cool rainy ones, but deep down we don’t mind because it only means one thing – the hunt for mushrooms is on!
You’ll find all types of mushrooms sprouting up but the most prized of all is without a doubt the porcini, which is the star of many southern Italian traditional antipasti and dishes. And since here in Calabria we have dense mountainous forests, you can bet that these little guys are popping up everywhere.
When it comes to mushroom hunting, the idea that the “early bird gets the worm” holds very true. In many hilltop towns and villages you’ll find people sneaking out at dawn, and often earlier, in hopes of finding these wild delicacies before someone else snatches them up.
If you ever have the opportunity to trek the forests looking for mushrooms, we have a couple pieces of advice for you:
First and most importantly, don’t ever, and we mean ever, go out alone! It’s extremely important to have an experienced guide or someone who is intimately familiar with the territory and has an expert knowledge of mushrooms. You don’t want to get lost in the vast forest and you certainly don’t want to pick or consume mushrooms that might look delectable but are in fact poisonous.
One of the great things about mushroom hunting is you don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment, but we do suggest a pair of sturdy (preferably water-repellent) shoes, a basket and a long branch or walking stick to carefully lift away leaves and plants that may be cleverly hiding the mushrooms from sight.
With a little patience, hunting for mushrooms can be a lot of fun. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you uncover your first porcino mushroom. It’s an experience you won’t quickly forget!
Image Credits: Giovanna Manfredi, Randi Hausken