One more harvest before Christmas…. porcini galore!

by Laura Gray on November 22, 2013

After picking the grapes and then the olives there was still one more harvest to go. 2013 has been fantastic for mushrooms; it has been over a decade since this area has seen a similar “fungata” and the woods have been pullulating with hunters (fungaioli).  I have been a porcini widow for nearly a month with Marco bringing in daily hauls of up to 30 kg. Thank goodness Monte Amiata is now powdered with the first snow and the fungi have stopped appearing. Mushrooms are the new currency in Montalcino; we have recently paid for pizza in ‘shrooms and swapped them for fresh clementines from the South.

Rainfall, in particuar the ruinous storm of 21st October that flooded Buonconvento and washed away bridges and railway tracks, filling the theatre and museum with mud :

The valley towards Siena 21st October 2013

Plus warm warm November days

2013 November sun

gave us heaps of these:

Shrooms galore

My friend Katja has written a wonderful post about porcini madness on her extremely informative and well-written blog Montalcino – Map it Out! – check it out here.

A word about the downside of mushrooming; every year entire families are badly poisoned after eating mis-identified funghi. In Tuscany alone, half-way through the 2012 season, 168 people had been admitted to hospital for intossicazioni. The chilling statistics (for Italian speakers) are here. And then there’s the common habit of fungaioli, who tend to so protective of their precious spots, kept secret for generations, that they tell no one where they are going and even hide their cars from prying eyes. This behaviour makes finding them hard when they don’t come at sundown. Italy-wide in 2010, 43 mushroom hunters died in just 50 days. For full details (again in Italian), see here. This year the statistics are not nearly so worrying. When there are plentiful good funghi to be found, hunters tend to stick to what they know rather than filling up their baskets with less familiar varieties.

Time for lunch… pasta con funghi, followed by grilled porcini caps. A dopo?

Previous post:

Next post: