Last weekend, Ellen, Oscar, and I flew to Wisconsin to meet her pops, so that we might go hunting…for morels. With the early onset of spring, we arrived at the tail end of the season, passing many patches in the woods where Jim later pointed he’d found fungi just the other week. And though it was nearly freezing when we landed in Milwaukee at what felt like 5 (but was really 8 am), Jim had saved what he’d found and we were optimistic that there would still be some to pick.
Hopping in a rental, we drove northwest through rolling farms with happy cows to North Freedom, near where Jim and Jan live. And after waiting out the afternoon’s pouring rain for a drizzle, we bundled up equipped with sticks, and headed out in search of dead Elms beneath which morals live.
Still unable to really identify a dead or dying elm with peeling bark, Ellen and I relied on Jim for our search. Circling the radius of each one he found, poking through fallen trees, and leafy greens and debris, we narrowed our eyes and scoured the ground. Walking, backs bent–it’s meticulous work–our focus so intense we transformed. Up and down the gullies–Look downslope, advised Jim–around and around. Each finding was cause for celebration. Over the course of a few hours, we’d found about ten.
Phallicism aside, musty aromas–scents of earth and sweat–their texture when cooked so like human flesh. Sex. They embody the interior as they rise from the earth, grant us a glimpse of the inside and of what’s underground.
We took them home and Jim cooked a batch in butter and olive oil in a pan. Not wanting to check bags with bottles, we had to rely on supermarkets selections for our wine, opting for a bottle of Wollersheim Domaine du Sac from Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. Gamay-like with a Syrah spiced finish, the wine wasn’t bad…but the morels were divine.