Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Autumn in the hood

Happening right now on a rainy night in Harlem: smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) vodka shaken up with a lick of maple syrup (cocktail Since I didn't collect and make the maple syrup myself I'll omit botanical name. But you should talk to our friend, Steve...

Puffballs (Calvatia fragilis) and meadow mushrooms (Agaricus campestris) sauteeing. In the oven, hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa) are roasting...

...wild mushroom risotto for supper.

Blocks on blocks

Chelsea skyline, from The High Line.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Do you smell mushrooms?

Good mushroom weather, we've been having. Rain, the first cold nights, a little warmth in the day.

Blewits - Clitocybe nuda - the typical pale lavender is fading in these specimens, but still a fresh enough clutch for a light lunch, on toast. The spore print is pale buff. Spore prints are important.

I had never seen these, before, below. Very striking.

Turns out they are Leucoagaricus americanus, and are edible. They caused some excitement in a mushroom forum.

See their distinctive, fat stems...

This cap was about five inches across. 

I'm not  a very adventurous mushroom eater, and I do my homework, so don't panic. I only brought one home to identify, and it will not be lunch.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Concord air

They perfume the whole apartment. From the tiny, one-stall farmers market on 117th and Lenox Avenue.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Puffball hunting

Rain, lawns, puffballs. After it poured with rain at the end of the week I could hardly wait to go out and search for mushrooms.

It's been years since I found decent puffballs.

The one above was about eight inches across.

Puffballs and imposters, possibly a species of Leucoagaricus - yet to be identified.

Rock, not puffball. Yes, I did try.

Puffball, emerging.

Old exploded or stomped-on puffball. The purple gives it its one common name: purple-spored puffball. 

Puffballs safely at home with a bonus of meadow mushrooms (Agaricus campestris).

The puffballs are probably Calvatia fragilis. They definitely are Calvatia. 

The 'probably' in this case is not rash carelessness: there are no poisonous true puffballs, though there are a couple of similar-ish mushrooms that you should be aware of, if you're puffball hunting. Purple inside when young means you have found a Scleroderma citrinum - do not eat. You want pure white, in cross section. 

And the creepy silhouette of a mushroom inside, when sliced in half, means you have the button stage of a destroying angel, or death cap, Amanitas you really, really don't want to eat. 

And, at last, lunch. I roasted the smaller ones whole, after peeling, then sliced, burning my fingers. They retain heat worsen' baked potatoes.

I love puffballs, though I don't know that the texture would appeal to everyone: buttery-silky, very tender, like the most delicate tofu, or, closer: roasted or poached bone marrow.

But then, I eat such things.

Recommended reading:

Mushrooms Demystified, by David Arora

Friday, October 17, 2014

The twilight hour


...are you...

will you be...moving on...


No...? Ah. 

Well, I'll just uh...go this way, then, and...

Oh!'re still there...

do you mind if I uh...I was just going to...

I was just busy...

...that is to is quite late and, I mean,

...for you, to be in the park...that is. This is my time, ...well, mostly

and I was...are you planning to stay much...longer...?

...Is that thing a gun?

...I have, uh, claws...if, you know...if necessary, that is to say...

I'll just go this way...and

Oh! You're there, ah...too. I see.

I see. Yes...


Do you have marshmallows?


Tomorrow's Wild Edibles Walk - last of 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Harlem anniversary

The roses are making a modest comeback after hot summer, as the fava beans and peas are rising like skinny snakes from the planters on the terrace. The sun's four hour reign over the garden is interrupted now by the roof of the homeless shelter on 126th Street, so we get sun on one side of it, for an hour or so, a shadowed pause, and then some more on the other, western side, for another two.

Shadows are longer, the apartment is darker, and we have been here exactly a year.

I like the life on the street. The life where you greet neighbours sitting on their stoops, and where you are greeted by strangers on the sidewalk. I like the voices I hear through the window, at loud conversation, in accents only known from movies - deeply black American, a sense of the South. There is eye contact - I like that. I like the ease of communication between people who have never met. In Cobble Hill people studiously and coldly avoided it. I like the diversity. I like the Nigerian dress and the dapper suits and the sense of identity. I like the saxophone practising down the block and the opera singers exercising their voices as they walk to the subway. I don't like the screaming matches and the motorbikes that tear down the street. Nor having to skirt certain blocks at night. I like knowing which blocks to skirt.

I miss having a horizon. I'd give a lot for that bare silvertop rooftop where we could sit and watch the shipping traffic on New York Harbor, and watch the sun's path from its rise to to its setting over Jersey. We both need horizons.

It has been an interesting year. I have learned a lot about myself. In some ways I am weaker than I would like, in some ways I have done well, and have improved. One thing we both also know, and expressed last night - we need to think. I mean, we need time to think. I haven't really thought for a long time. So we need to find a place where we can both think, and a lifestyle that permits it.

Horizons help. One needs a view.

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