This is my favorite season in Italia for one particular reason that stands out the most...
My love for the
My love for the Porcini, goes back to my childhood. It was the beginning for me to learn to appreciate food grown naturally in nature. I discovered I did not have to go to the grocery store to eat healthy, flavorful food. When I was a young girl growing up in Seattle in a family rich in Italian culture, discovering the unity of cooking traditional Italian cuisine with my family. My grandfather, whom we called Papoo, would forge mushrooms around the Mount Vernon area. These mushrooms were called Boletus, which are also known as the Porcini. He had his secret spot where him and his brother would trudge deep in the woods to hunt for mushrooms. They would keep it a secret, not telling anyone exactly where they would locate them. After a long day of forging, they would arrive home with their bounty. My grandmother Nana, would clean them, dip them in flour with a little salt, then fry them in sizzling hot oil. The smell in the house, along with the incredible taste has left me with an unforgettable lasting sentiment.
In the fall in Italy, there are many opportunities to enjoy these delectable treats. I have had the chance to go to two different porcini festivals in the mountains of the region of Piemonte (last photo). The whole village would gather together in an abandoned old school house, or another deserted old building they would find to host their festival. Both times for me, attending these porcini celebrations was an outstanding experience. It was good for me coming from the restaurant business, to be able to witness first hand, the young and the older local people who would come together to work for no pay, to prepare in various different ways and share, their precious porcini. For me eating the porcini in the area where they are forged made them exceptional.
The Porcini mushrooms are very versatile. You can prepare them in a variety of different
preparations. The simplest and most tasty way is to slice them, dust lightly in flour and salt (the salt will help absorb the moisture) then fry them in hot oil. They are also delicious in Risotto, or sautéed and served in a delicate sauce of lemon, butter, and a touch garlic, on a cutlet of tender chicken, or Veal Scallopini. However you decide to prepare them, you will be fulfilled, because the texture is firm and meaty. The freshest preparation is to slice them extra thin with fresh shrimp a little olive oil, lemon and salt. No cooking is necessary. The freshest and best porcini have firm white stocks with a golden brown cap, free from bruises or the little white worms you might find inside. (see first image above!)
These mushrooms are both delicate and also hearty in taste and consistency.