“Massive chicken of the woods in the cupcake lady’s yard,” Collin texted me on his way to work.
I slipped on flop flops, grabbed my adorable mushroom knife, and marched down to the corner where the cupcake lady lives. She sells these amazing cupcakes at the booth next to ours called the Sweet Shoppe at the Ames Main Street Farmers Market. The garage door was open, and she was in a flurry to get to work.
”Hi!” I called out.
”Hi!” she called back but never stopped moving.
“I heard you have a big mushroom in your yard,” I said.
“Do you want it?”
“No!” she declared without a moment’s thought.
I found it on the front lawn, big as a beach ball, blazing like an exploded atomic pumpkin.
“What is that?!?! Where did you find it?!?!” she asked when I held it up to show her.
”On your lawn. It’s a chicken of the woods mushroom. I’ll freeze you a pan of enchiladas. Thanks!”
On the way home, I cut through my favorite hen of the woods spot and found another mother load.
The rain moved in as soon as I walked in the door. Whatever happens next, it’s a good day.
This is a chapter about mushrooms and mycophiles from the culinary biography I’m working on.
This is a story in the Des Moines Register about the Prairie State Mushroom Banquet I co-hosted with my friend and mushroom sensei, Barbara Ching.