Mushrooms at the Market

I had to miss the first two Saturdays of the 2007 Lexington Farmers Market season because of a trip and a heel injury, but today I finally got there. On crutches, and limited in what I could carry, but definitely there.

I had heard about the new vendors who are growing Lions Mane mushrooms. I bought a half-pound mushroom that looked a lot like a small cauliflower covered with white tendrils instead of curlicues. I also bought half a pound of velvety grey oyster mushrooms.

I sauteed the two types of mushrooms in separate pans to top our own greens in the first Saturday Farmers Market lunch of the season. I followed the Lisle V. Roberts (Dad) theory that anything you cook in browned butter will taste good. Dad developed that theory during the couple of years Mother became an avid mushroom forager and tester in beautiful Wayne County.

The Lions Mane mushrooms slices looked almost bread-like. After a minute in the hot butter, the slices quickly gave up a great deal of liquid. The taste was sweeter than any mushroom I've had before, and not much else but sweet -- except browned butter, of course. Later I read in a little sheet the growers gave me that Lions Mane mushrooms are thought to have a taste and texture somewhat similar to lobster. Extracts of the mushroom pop up in online herbariums.

I liked the oyster mushrooms much better, because their flavor was richer, "fungier." So much for my old ideas that oyster mushrooms are tasteless. No, neither one will knock morels out of their niche as the Zeus in my mushroom pantheon, but I like having more mushrooms at the Lexington Farmers Market just the same. I failed to learn the growers' names, and their helpful papers did not tell me. Next week!