If you go down to the woods today… this song was stuck in my head as I followed my father-in-law for a post-lunch walk on Monday. I couldn’t remember the rest of it, so it was driving me mad, as was the thought that there was plenty of things I should be doing and none of them included mushroom hunting. But I had promised FIL I would look for mushrooms with him in the woods behind his house and I couldn’t say no. Mostly because he does a lot of things for us. Giulio is entirely inept in all things bar Google and we’d die in less than a week if FIL suddenly decided to stop helping us. Seriously, he’s the only one who knows how to change the gas bottle that fuels our hot water and heater! Sounds reasonable until you remember that hubby is almost 40.
If you’d asked me 10 years ago, if I’d one day find myself crashing through the woods in borrowed gumboots looking for porcini, I’d have laughed in your face. I consider glamping slumming it. Living in country Tuscany has changed more than my perspectives. It’s changed me too. Alright, so after, 15 minutes with zero results, I was considering leaving FIL to the bears and striking for home, but then we started to find a mushroom here, a mushroom there… clarification, a poisonous mushroom here, a poisonous mushroom there. Still, it was a start. Poisonous mushrooms are a sign of edible mushrooms to come, FIL admonished. Not that I know the difference between the two.
Thirty minutes in and still nothing. It would be another half an hour before we found two sorry excuses for porcini and a cluster of something that looked deadly. It was the start we needed and soon FIL was finding edible mushrooms by the bucketful. Note, I said FIL. I’d lost interest and was picking pretty branches. Hard to spot mushrooms when you’re staring at something above your head. He humoured me, of course, by shouting “acqua” “fuoco” (the Italian version of Marco Polo), but he’d already spotted anything worth spotting hours ago.
Dirty, dusty and with ruined jeans, I returned to the office full of self purpose. I was a real country Tuscan, securing dinner from what the land provided. I called Giulio to admire my bounty. He gave them one look. Declared them all “fungachi” and refused to eat them. City folk.