creatures. When curried they tasted like meat. Then there was the time I read a scientific report on the close similarity between human flesh and mushrooms. Charming. As a cook, I often use tame supermarket mushrooms, but I'd always been afraid of their wild cousins. I'd heard a few too many stories about wild mushroom hunters suddenly dropping dead from their meal.
I swallowed my fears to join with members of the Michigan Mushroom Hunters' Club on one of their forays in the Waterloo Recreation Area. Marti Cochran related that she was "dragged kicking and screaming" twenty years ago to her first mushroom hunt by her husband, Ken. She had a deep fear of snakes, but Ken, an epidemiologist committed to searching for mushrooms with antiviral properties, assured her that she'd love it. Indeed, Marti found that gathering mushrooms is a great excuse for having a lovely picnic in the beauty of nature as well as a chance to gather gourmet delicacies for free. Now she's been a leader for about twenty years, and she actually once prodded a snake away from a mushroom with her stick. Such is the power and the flavor of the wild mushroom. But the hunt itself seems to be the core experience for the participants, not to mention the lure of the "bait pile," as Ken calls the potluck that follows.