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Antonio on the Joys of Foraging
As August turns to September we enter prime foraging season. It is a wonderful time of year, watching the many varieties of funghi spring up from the golden leaves littered on the ground.
It was at the age of five that I discovered my passion for mushrooms. I used to spend many days roaming the Italian countryside with Papa, enjoying foraging for many different varieties of fruits and funghi of the earth.
One of the most wonderful activities in nature is the one of discovery and the field of mushrooms offers an unforgettable occasion to feel like a prehistoric hunter. The mushroom world is one of the oldest on earth, in fact without them nature couldn’t exist and that increases the intriguing matter of knowing more about it. Of 200,000 known species of fungi, about 2,000 are visible and touchable, growing out in a similar way as human cells multiply and produce a fruiting body which we can seem touch, smell and eat. Of the 200,000 species perhaps about 200 are of this quality. Of those 200, some are poisonous and a few edible. About 100 are edible with 50-60 of them really worthwhile picking and are delicious. So, because you find them at random in the woods, you have to know the soil, the area, the growing of certain types of trees, the weather and the season. Providing you have enough knowledge about that, you may find some mushrooms and this is the bounty that every mushroom gatherer is after. For those who are not informed about all of the able, it is suggested not to attempt collection at random, because mistakes can easily be made, with related damage to your health.
NB. I have 75 years of knowledge and experience of mycology. If you aren’t sure about a specific mushroom then please don’t take any risks! It is better to go foraging with a mycologist or foraging expert.