Mushroom Man

October 4, 2015

He was tramping up and down on a twisty road in the mountains of Sicily. Across the wide valley loomed Etna, dark as a savage mystery.  He clutched a pink bucket in one hand, a cane in the other. Cigar smoke curled over his head, stinking up the fresh country air.

“What’s in your basket?”

“Boletus edulis,” he says, hauling out a spongy porcini the size of a piglet.

Mushroom Man, copyright Jann Huizenga

He plans to polish it off for lunch. “In an omelette?” I ask.

“No, no. Tossed with spaghettini!”

“Is it good picking in these woods?” By now Rino and I are on a cozy first-name basis.

“No,” he scoffs, sucking his cigar like a binky. “Over there,” he says nodding at Etna, Pillar of Heaven, “it’s much better.” Though it looks close, it’s at least an hour’s drive to the base from here.

I’d like to ask if he’ll share the fungus with his family at a typical Sicilian Sunday feast, or if he’ll eat all by his lonesome. “Buon pranzo,” I say instead.

“Buon spaghettini!” he cries after me, the cigar still in his teeth.


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31 comments to Mushroom Man

  • Anitre

    Great to see you back, Jann! This mushroom is making me so hungry. I’m thinking of a million ways to cook that baby. Mmmmm!

  • Jann, I’ve missed you!! And what a great story I’ve come back to! Personally, I don’t like mushrooms in spaghetti, but I know many people love them. That one he had in his hands is HUGE!!

  • Hi Jann, I’ve missed you. What a lovely portrait of a meeting.

  • MARY

    Oh I’m sure it’s a great mushroom picking location. Rino is just keeping his spot all to himself!

  • Sam

    And doesn’t the word “porcini” refer to pig in some way?

  • Love your piece and your photos, always. I can just taste the earthiness of that gigantic mushroom. Wish I were there to sample same. I paid a visit to a village in the Madonie Park which specializes in gigantic mushrooms of all colours and had one of the best meals of my life there.

    Nice to have you posting again, but you posting means I’m not getting on with my own work!

    • Jann

      Hi Mari, thanks for your sweet comment, and for stopping by. Don’t you love the Madonie region??? It might be my favorite in Sicily (after the Aeolian Islands and my village, of course). I’ve never sampled their mushrooms though because I haven’t been there in autumn.

  • Chloe

    Seems I sent the last message twice, so will try again. It’s good to have you back, writing about Sicily and showing us wonderful photos. I love porcini mushrooms, which I believe might be called ceps here in France. Sadly, I can never find them in the market.

    • Jann

      Chloe, happy to hear from you twice! Thanks for your gentilezza. I’m surprised that in the gourmet capital of the world you cannot find porcini!

  • Chloe

    So happy that you are once more posting. Don’t stay away so long as everyone misses you and Sicily. I love porcini mushrooms. i think here in France they may be called Cep.

    he looks like my uncle, Alex!
    Did I tell you that my ancestors are from Sicily?
    My aunt Bonnie looks like Sophia Loren!!!
    That mushroom is GIGANTIC. How wonderful it will be in spaghetti.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx kiss from MN.

    • Jann

      Yes, Kim, I know that your people are originally from Sicily. And I think you take after (the young) Sophia Loren yourself… xxxxx

  • Josephine Wicker

    Good to have you back. Love your posts. Ciao

  • Josephine Wicker

    Ciao Jenn, so good to see you are back. I missed your posts.

  • John Schinina

    Ciao Jann, Can’t wait to be there, I can smell the food in the air, I can taste that mushrooms aroma on my plate of pasta, see you soon, and great to have you back.

  • Buongiorno, Nice to see you back Jann. What a character, but then, you know how to find them.

  • Sweet, simple little stories with wonderful photos. Grazie molto.

  • Oh I have missed you and your wonderful posts! I’ve never seen a mushroom that huge. And spaghettini? Now I’m hungry so I’m off to find some delish lunch. I just noticed your recipe category – yay, you have made me very happy!!

  • cemal karahan

    He looks as if he were one of my relatives. Yes the time to pick up mushrooms came now. Small circle-shaped brown mushrooms are so delicious to eat if they’re done with just butter in the oven. Welcome back Jann.Thanks.

  • suzanne

    Salve! It’s so nice to see a new post from you. I expect Rino was about to invite you share the ‘shroom with him!

  • Nancy hersch

    Wow, big mushroom. Looking forward to more posts and pictures.

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