Going deeper for mushrooms and trout my idea of “from heaven”

On July 21, 2013
Comments (14)

I was inspired by the story written by Sebata-san, Go Deeper Upstream with Skill. I enjoyed learning his story, where Sebata-san describes how he learned tenkara, and also the “secret” of tenkara: ” “Ah ha, I need to slow down by one breath. This is the secret of tenkara fishing”, he says. But, what really inspired me was how we went deeper, and took the time to describes what makes the tenkara experience whole, for him at least.

Tenkara fly fishing with mushrooms and trout

Since I was a little kid I have been a bit of a forager. My parents instilled the interest in “free foods” found in nature by stopping on the side of the road to take fruit they spotted while driving. Guavas were my favorite. But my parents were not much of the wild foraging type though, it was more of a drive-through foraging experience with them. My grandfather, on the other hand, would take me on walks in the woods and show me the use for every plant we came across. Unfortunately the knowledge did not stick; luckily, curiosity did.

Mushrooms were the one thing neither my parents nor my grandfather ever touched. Like most people in Brazil, where I grew up, and here in the USA, my family was afraid of mushrooms and figured it would be best to not touch them.

Sometimes I like to go deeper upstream too. When I found tenkara, I thought it would be a perfect complement to my backpacking trips, and that’s a big part of the reason I fell in love with it. As I strived to remain ultra-light, I figured the 7 oz kit of a tenkara rod, line and some flies could even replace the need to bring much food with me; I would supplement my diet with freshly caught trout. I tried learning about edible plants while living in California, and occasionally would come across something I could use, but on the drier Sierra Nevada we didn’t get nearly as much wild mountain vegetables as Mr. Sebata can find in Japan.

This year I decided to really delve in the world of mushrooms and edible plants. I have been studying every mushroom I find, and joining a local group of some mushroom forays. I have also been trying to learn at least one new plant every time I go for a hike, which is pretty much every morning with my dog. I spend a lot of time outside, so I figured I should learn more about what I can eat should I come across it or should I ever need it.
Today, Margaret and I decided to go deeper into the mountains…to acquire more skill in finding and identifying mushrooms, more specifically with an interest in finding the prized boletes that are coming up now and can be a great addition to meals in future trips.

Mushroom hunting was the primary objective of today’s trip. So, when I came across a stream, I initially didn’t think of fishing at all, we had the dog along (not the best fishing dog in the world) and I was focused on the task at hand. But, then I remembered the stream that I was staring at was a brook trout stream. You see, brook trout are an invasive species to these areas, and even though I am a mostly catch-and-release angler, it’s really not a bad thing to take some brook trout home. There is even a blog called “Eat More Brook Trout”. Plus, if we found some mushrooms most certainly we would go home and cook them, but mushrooms alone don’t make a complete meal. So I armed the tenkara rod and proceeded to catch as many trout as we needed for a complete foraged meal of mushrooms and trout.

Talking of a meal, it’s time for me to shut the computer down and cook today’s bounty. Luckily Sebata-san already wrote the conclusion I’m trying to make with this story:

“Tenkara fishing is very simple, which makes me feel I am a part of the mountains. If you want to submerge yourself deep in nature, it is the best fishing style. But just through the act of fishing, we won’t be able to enjoy real thrill and joy of tenkara fishing. Fishing becomes much more fun by experiencing the joy of being able to be a part of nature and learning something new in nature.”

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14 Responses to Going deeper for mushrooms and trout my idea of “from heaven”

  1. Bob Coggins says:

    Get pics, great meal: trout and mushrooms. Nice to see someone who keeps a few fish.

  2. David says:

    I recently spend 10 days at our family vacation home taking daily hikes on the trails within the grounds of the Radio Astronomy Observatory. I was surprised at the variety of mushrooms that grow there. Many more types than grow on local trails near home or even on other trails in the same area. An amazing assortment of shapes, colors, and textures. Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures of them because digital cameras are verboten there because they cause interference to radio signals they receive and study. I’m quite sure some of them are these little guys.

    According to guys I meet in the Navy, Colorado is a particularly good area to find them. However, I suspected those guys were ready consumers of them and possibly not sure of what state they were in when they found them. : – 0

    I won’t post the link here but if you do a google search for this type of mushroom, on the first page of search results is a story out of Michigan, from last month, about a guy who purposefully purchased and consumed a bowl of them. Then a few hours later proceeded to tear off his manly bits. Ouchie! While many people will say that it is a myth that you can easily pick and eat poisonous wild plants it still pays to be certain of what you pick to eat. A plant need not be poisonous to be not good for you. Know your mushrooms and good foraging.

    Reading the debate about how and why Christopher McCandless died is pretty interesting. He is the subject of the book and movie, Into the Wild. This article provides an interesting insight about why interest in edible wild plants is not a going thing in this country yet it appears to thrive in places like Japan.

    Other information on this web page is interesting too. You should get a tenkara rod in the website owner’s hands. He’s a fisherman too.

    • David, thank you very much for sharing the forager story, really enjoyed it. I’m truly enjoying the learning phase of learning more about wild edibles. It will take me a lifetime to trust myself to know exactly what to eat and what not to touch. Hopefully the lifetime will be long.

  3. Michaela says:

    I love wild mushrooms,when I was a child I would go mushroom hunting with my Russian grandmother, she would select a mushroom and cut a little off the bottom of the stem and then touch it to her tongue ,if it passed her test she would put in in a sack,if not she would throw it away. I miss her and I miss those wild mushrooms, I never trusted myself collecting them,however iI am left with fond memories of grandmom and mushrooms. The type of mushrooms i really enjoyed were red like the ones that Margaret’s holding. I bet wild mushrooms and trout would taste wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

  4. David says:

    Nice to hear you found the article interesting. Euell Gibbons, mentioned in the story, is most widely known for encouraging foraging for wild edibles, but he wasn’t just an explorer of wild edible foods.

    He was also an explorer of experimental sailing rigs. He developed the Gibbons rig in the 1950s in experiments to find a simplified single handed way to sail upwind on Pacific Proa canoes. Western sail boats are symmetrical port and starboard, asymmetrical fore and aft, and sail upwind by tacking. Proas, otoh, are symmetrical fore and aft, asymmetrical port and starboard, and sail upwind by shunting. What was the bow becomes the stern.

    Gary Dierking in NZ plays around with the Gibbons rig on some of his boat designs. The red sail in the drawing of the T2 is a Gibbons rig.

    And the Gibbons rig is used on the Tarawa design. A drawing shows how shunting works.

    So who knows, if you eat enough wild edibles you might develop an urge to build a sail boat. ; – )

  5. David says:

    Beyond apples, berries and nuts – the only wild foods I was aware of that are locally widely harvested are Ramps and Molly Moochers in the Spring. You can usually find people selling Ramps on the road side. Molly Moochers you usually have to go find yourself.

    My neighbor who is in her late 70s fell and broke her hip five years ago hunting for Molly Moochers as one indication of how popular they are. People are driven to venture to places they ought not be to find them.

    To my surprise I discovered there is an in-state mushroom club that has an event planned this coming Sat. I might have to see if I can arrange to attend.

    Perhaps wild mushroom clubs are more numerous in the different states than suspected. Look around there maybe one in your state too.

  6. David says:

    The mushroom. Sure it’s a fungus but is it more Plant or Animal?

    Mushroom hunting and eating is filled with a wonderful range of black humor. ( or maybe it’s essential advice) Just one example is this – Tip of the Day: Only eat one type of mushroom at a time and never cook and consume all the mushrooms collected. Leave at least one raw mushroom in the refrigerator. It will be a big help to the Medical Examiner. : – 0

  7. David says:

    Daniel, I attended the 2013 Mushroom Foray this past Saturday sponsored by the WV Mushroom club. The club alias or nickname is Destroying Angel. Common name of a poisonous white mushroom – the sense of humor or seriousness is set from the get go.

    The first speaker at the meeting was Gary Lincoff. ( author of the National Audubon Field Guide to North American Mushrooms and other books. Very knowledgeable and witty guy with the timing of a professional stand up comic. He pointed out during his talk that membership in the WV Mushroom club did not include liver or kidney transplants ( the organs commonly destroyed by mushroom toxins) nor did membership cover burial cost.

    It’s the same kind of humor I became aware of when I was thinking about getting my pilot’s license 20 years ago. One recommended procedure for making emergency landings at night was to secure all items in the cabin, make sure your seat belt and shoulder harness is tight and the fuel valves closed. Then turn on the landing lights. If you don’t like what you see. Turn the lights back off.

    I recommend Gary Lincoff’s book The Complete Mushroom Hunter.

    A lot of information and a lot of his wit comes through the text of the book too. Gary has been all over the world hunting mushrooms. Some of the things he points out are 1) as a general rule English speakers around the world fear wild mushrooms. Anywhere British culture has a huge influence. England, India, USA, English speaking parts of Canada. 2) Westerners pick mushrooms for the flavor. People in the Orient pick mushrooms primarily for perceived medicinal benefits. Taste comes second 3) The Japanese are a little different. Americans and Chinese both will sauté mushrooms in olive oil or butter ( i.e. oil or dairy products) The Japanese are different preferring to boil, steam or grill there mushrooms and serve them with a dipping sauce. In his experience hunting mushrooms with Japanese either in Japan or in the USA they turned up their noses at mushrooms he considered wonderful and they were very enthusiastic about mushrooms he thought not very good. I’ve read that your native language influences color perception. Maybe it also influences the sense of taste as well.

    FWIW – the current issue of Golden Seal Magazine – A special Sesquicentennial Issue – Has four articles about mushrooms. In one of them either Gary Lincoff or William Roody ( author of Mushrooms of WV and Central Appalachians ) reports interviewing a man who somehow survived eating a meal of Destroying Angel mushrooms. He reported stated afterward that they were quite delicious. So if you feel you’ve made your last cast and want to check out with a delicious last supper. Destroying Angels could be the way to go.

    I’ve located what I’m almost certain is a large patch of Chanterelles. Orange color, no gills, forked veins, kind of smells like apricots. And for added excitement some face to face time with a black bear on the trail returning to my car. Unfortunately a do-gooder overheard my tale about the bear and notified authorities who may trap and move the bear else where. My position is – Hey, I’m in the woods in Pocahontas County I’m supposed to have a good chance of a bear encounter in the woods. The fact that he ran off in a sprint after I yelled, HEY !. Is also a comfort booster.

    Michael Kuo , author of 100 Edible Mushrooms – admits mushrooms as food scare the hell out of him even when he is 100% certain of their identity and that he rarely eats them. Further admitting he chose the title mostly to just get people interesting in mushrooms. He also recommends a go slow approach and the first mushroom hunts should just be to study them, not eat them. And after enough study perhaps within the first year you could eat some of the wild mushrooms on his recommended for beginners list. His list of focus points throughout the book are quit informative.

    Be sure to use the Look Inside feature – to check out the picture just before the recommended reading list, which precedes the index. The two pictures are the last 2 in the book. I think the date is 1838.

    From what I’ve learned thus far – spore prints can be a guide or comfort in self assuring that you haven’t misidentified a mushroom.

    If a drop of ammonia on the cap of a white mushroom turns yellow – You probably have the real deal Destroying Angel. Once you bring this knowledge into the home the certainty that there is harmony with the spouse doubles or quadruples. : – 0

    btw – when I pulled into the parking lot at the club meeting. Most cars were parked parallel to the building. But one was parked perpendicular to the building near the entry door the license clearly visible when you pull in. The license plate was from Va. The license said “manjiro”. I thought this must be a good omen for an interesting day. It was. The owners of the car were original members of the John Manjiro Friendship Society when it was founded in Va. Before it moved to Fairhaven ,Mass and became known as the Whitfield – Manjiro Friendship Socienty. I believe the sister city in Japan is Tosashimizu.

    Bon Appetit – but not to soon.

    • David,
      Amazing knowledge and fun stories.
      That’s the guidebook I have, the Audubon field guide. A great book, but not super comprehensive.
      The other day Margaret and I spent hours looking for chanterelles. We probably found a dozen different types of mushrooms, including a couple that looked an awful like chanterelles, but no chanterelles. Lucky you!
      Very interesting about the cultural tastes and influences. I know my family was always terrified of mushrooms. Margaret, who is Japanese American, is also very afraid of them. I’m being super cautious, but have always been fascinated by them, especially, I think, as I have been exposed to wonderful use of mushrooms in Japan. Their recipes really allow the mushrooms to shine through. One of my favorite recipes that uses mushrooms (so far I have only done with store bought), is the “chawanmushi”.

  8. David says:

    I hesitated about posting this further account about people I met at the 2013 WV Mushroom Club ( aka Destroying Angels) Foray. It has nothing to do with Tenkara fishing or even directly with mushroom hunting. This post is more about very interesting people you might meet at a mushroom club event. And about how family and friends and mushroom research might some day save your life.

    People returning from their morning mushroom hunt came in a wide variety of appearance and dress. Some well dressed and groomed. Others in old muddy clothes and dreadlocks. One guy stood out quite different from all the others.

    He was tall, his neck long and thin and tilted forward, the tips of his hair was green or blue. In his ear lobes were two large hollow metal earrings . He had a grey beard and tattoos on his arms from wrist to above his elbows. He wore a shirt with a large mushroom printed on the front. He rested one forearm on top of his belly as he stood off to the side smiling at everyone – like he was delighted to see them, couldn’t wait for things to get started and there was no place else he’d rather be. As though he was thinking that just being there was a gift and he was expecting delightful things to happen today. I wondered what is the story with this guy? Maybe he is the magic mushroom guy. In a way he is.

    I learned more about his story in the days after the meeting. Now I know why he was smiling and appeared to be thinking being there was a gift. It was. And meeting him was a gift too.

    He was the third person to do a presentation to the club. He talked about how DNA testing of mushrooms is resulting in many mushrooms being reclassified into a different family. I only learned his name is Tom Volk and that he has a talent for describing complex functions of mushrooms in simple terms. He is a good teacher. It was days after the meeting that I learned he is Dr. Tom Volk, Mycologists , Associate Professor of Biology at U. Wis – La Crosse.

    Tom has an alias – The Professor with Two Hearts.

    Below are some links that tell his incredible story. I think it will be worth your time to read or watch the video about his life’s path. If you get the chance to attend a mushroom club meeting that he attends. Go. Or get him to come to your mushroom club event. He can teach you a lot about mushrooms and other important things too.

    Professor with 2 Hearts, 8:23

    The Professor with Two Hearts – CNN report from Oct 2, 2012.

    There was much more to Tom’s tattoos than I realized at the foray.

    “To commemorate his difficult health journey, Tom decided to get three distinctive tattoos.

    On his right arm is a color tattoo depicting the underground portion of the morel fungus. It is inscribed with the word Mykos, the Greek word for fungus.

    On his left arm is a cross section of a mushroom’s gill showing how the spores are attached to the mushroom’s structure. Sometimes in class he uses his “tattooed arm” to demonstrate the structures of the mushroom to questioning students. As you continue up the same arm there is a tattoo commemorating his heart transplant date May 22, 2006. He received this tattoo on the second anniversary of receiving his new heart. Each of the tattoos graphically illustrates the long difficult journey Tom has traveled.”

    Two weeks ago a friend, a local MD, collapsed and died from a heart attack at 53 while grocery shopping. Sometimes it’s a good thing to remember each day is a gift, and that a lot of issues are smaller than you suppose. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Go Tenkara fishing and just enjoy casting the line, even if you don’t catch any fish. And when difficulties arise remember Tom’s encouragement “You can do this.” I know I need to remember this.

    Hope you enjoyed meeting Tom.


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