Mungo's Marvellous Morels: A Fun Guy with Fungi

On Sunday, as I was returning on a path through the woods towards my car (after a hike at Whitchurch Conservation Area north of Toronto), I was looking at the various plants scattered along the pathway - ferns, and wood sorrel, and a couple of Jack in the Pulpits. And then suddenly, as though I had recognized an old friend, I saw a mushroom standing amongst the leaf litter.

I knew instantly that it was a Morel, although I've never seen one in real life before. It is such a recognizable mushroom, much like a giant puffball is unmistakable.

I leaned down and inspected it - it looked healthy and new.

Later I read that it was a Morchella esculenta.

Morchella esculenta is also commonly known as morel, yellow morel, common morel, true morel, morel mushroom, and sponge morel.

The Genus Morchella (Morel)'s name is etymologically derived from morchel, an old German word for mushroom, while morel itself is derived from the Latin maurus meaning brown.

Roger's Mushrooms has these details about Morchella esculenta (use the search box and type in Morchella esculenta - it is 1 of the 7 search results that are presented on the page):
  • Morchella esculenta
  • location: North America, Europe
  • edibility: Choice
  • fungus colour: Brown
  • normal size: 5-15cm
  • cap type: Other
  • flesh: Flesh granular or brittle, Other
  • spore colour: White, cream or yellowish
  • habitat: Grows in woods, Grows on the ground
  • Habitat in open scrub or woodland or on waste ground. Season late spring. Uncommon. Edible – excellent. Distribution, America and Europe.

Some have never been lucky enough to have found a Morel, despite relying on expert mushroom hunters, and searching high and low.

I guess I was lucky!

I spent the next 10 minutes skulking around the woods and bush by the trail, and found just one more Morel.

I carefully tucked them both into my loose jacket pocket and brought them home.

I cut them open, and gently rinsed them under cold water - I didn't want to get them waterlogged, so I was brief.

I then diced them up into equal sized pieces, so that each piece was fairly flat. This way all of the pieces would contact the frying pan evenly. I have learned that you really need to always cook wild mushrooms - and so I did.

I heated up a frying pan, put in some olive oil, and a small amount of unsalted butter.

I dropped in the Morel pieces, sprinkled them with a little bit of coarse salt, and some black pepper.

They cooked down in size quickly, and after about 3 minutes or so of tossing them in the frying pan, I took the pan off of the heat.

I cut a couple of slices of my homemade bread, and laid them out in a shallow bowl.

Then I ladled the cooked mushrooms onto the bread - and stared at it. I was feeling awfully good about this.

I took a few photographs, relishing the thought of devouring this.

The smell was wonderful - not at all like typical field or button mushrooms. The taste was difficult for me to describe. The mouthfeel of the Morels was like very tender Calimari. The flavour was a mix of very mild beef filet mignon, combined with chicken breast, and of course, butter and olive oil.

It wasn't mind-blowing, but it was delectable. I intend to hunt for these again and hopefully I'll find far more than just two. I suspect having a whole bunch will help me clarify my description of the flavour - I do this in the name of blogging only, of course.



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