The Art of the Porcini Hunt

by Ashley in Italy /
Ashley in Italy's picture
Jun 26, 2009 / 2 comments

porcini mushroom, piobbico italy, la tavola marche

"I'll be here at 5:30 am ... have the coffee ready!" commanded our "capo" Dott. Gaggi.

We knew what that meant - the conditions were right for a rare summer mushroom hunt - but in particular for the ever-loved - porcini! We had the perfect guide - Dott. Gaggi, certified Mushroom Hunter & expert on everything! Mushroom lovers & die-hards know that 10 -15 days after a good rain followed by warm dry weather is ideal hunting conditions & those funghi are ready to pop up!

So we pulled on the wellies & tredged into the woods.

Porcini hunting in Piobbico, Le Marche Italy, La Tavola Marche

Mushroom hunting is an art with many secrets along the way. First it is the location - one that is not over-run, that very few people hunt at. Then you must whisper or whistle to alert the other - as most mushrooms grow in pairs - "where there is one, there is many" I heard this over & over today. So you don't want to draw attention to where you are because you never know who else may be out there with you.

I couldn't believe how fast the doctor started finding mushrooms & porcini to say the least - one after the other - I heard "Ashley vieni qui (come here)" & sure enough another fat one in the ground! So how does he do it - well years & years with a well trained eye. But the secret is to look for where the leaves bunch up - they are getting pushed up for the mushroom growing. Sometimes you're lucky enough to find them out in the open too!

Mushroom Hunting Le Marche Italy, La Tavola Marche Agriturismo & Cooking School

Now when you come across another hunter, it is not costumary to acknowledge him - just pass, but we didn't know - we came across another hunter & jolly Jason said - Buon giorno signor, what a beautiful morning this is! We both bum rushed the guy to peak in his deep basket that was filled with plump mushrooms. He grumbled about what a bad morning it is for hunting & that there is just nothing to be found in these woods. NOT TRUE! Our basket was overflowing at this point & so was his. So never let on that you are doing well. Gaggi recommends a deep covered basket so no one can see in.
Mushroom Hunting, Le Marche Italy, La Tavola Marche

This would be a good time to NOTE: Jason & I have no idea what we are doing, we have never gone mushroom hunting before, we have no clue which mushrooms are delicious to eat & which will kill you instantly! We are just totally lucky & thankful to have the good doctor Gaggi showing us the ropes & sharing these experience with us!
Mushroom, Funghi, Porcini Italy Le Marche, La Tavola Marche Agriturismo & Cooking School

The count: 22 beautiful porcini & 35 La Russola (in dialect: Bietta) sorry no clue what it's called in English. So I must say we did freakn' awesome for our first time out - in June! We'll be back for more...

Ashley Bartner is the Living in Italy Editor for Wandering Educators.
La Tavola Marche Agriturismo & Cooking Holiday

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