Venerdì, 21 Settembre 2018
ROME

LATE BUT GREAT SEASON FOR ITALY'S PRIZED PORCINI MUSHROOM

English
© ANSA

(ANSA) - Rome, September 26 - The north-south divide has
deepened in Italy - this time over mushrooms.
Autumn storms blowing through the northern half of the
country prodded the much-awaited porcini mushroom season into
overdrive almost two weeks earlier than in the south.
But nonetheless, on both ends of the peninsula, experts
say this is a very good year for the 'piglet' or porcini.
Known as Boletus edulis by highbrow and studious
mycologists, and simply as porcini by laymen and enthusiasts,
depending on the year the valued fungi can run as high as 40 to
50 euros a kilogram.
This year's late start has nudged prices up slightly, but
for the lovers of what has been dubbed by food critics as
possibly the greatest mushroom ever, it is a booty worth paying
for.
Aside from the overflowing market stalls filled with
porcini satisfaction, seekers often opt for roadside vendors
that show up just about everywhere throughout Italy starting in
mid-September and lingering until mid-to-late October.
Makeshift stalls on the street, however, have been
scrutinized for sometimes selling lower-quality porcini, often
originating from Eastern Europe where they cost less but leave
the taste buds wanting.
Gastronomes insist that the ideal mushroom should be
local...preferably picked by the vendor.
Porcini mushrooms are defined by several characteristicts
that make them culinary treasures.
As with their other fungi cousins, porcini absorb aromas
from the land around them and in association with specific
trees. They live in a symbiotic relationship with the trees they
grow under.
Many mushroom foragers find that the most flavorful are
picked in chestnut woods, where they aquire a light-colored cap
and are best eaten fresh.
As the porcini gets older, its underhat turns darker and
they lose some of their aromas.
All species of porcini are characterized by a big, rotund
and fleshy cap supported by a stout stalk of various shortness.
Their rich, nutty, meaty flavors make them perfect in pasta
or as a main course.
Mushroom hunters are a prized breed in Italy and walk a
fine balance with the environment to be able to put porcini on
consumers' tables.
A permit is needed to ensure that gatherers avoid damaging
the fragile balance of the forest, cutting the fungi from the
bottom of the stem with a boxcutter rather than ripping them up.
A wicker basket is a must so that the mushroom spores can
continue to sprinkle throughout the forest - something essential
for their reproduction.
Once collected, time to enjoy. For the non-hunters
salivating for a plate of porcini, to market to market to buy a
fat pig(let)!

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