Italian Colors-5
Ciao amici,
come state? Io mi riposo. I'm resting.

This is a rest, and rest, and rest weekend. Watching horror movies - and a little Harry Potter - , fall decorating, leaving the kitchen kingdom to my husband, and overdosing on Pinterest.
Today, I'm taking you into the woods of the Viterbese, the area around Viterbo, a land of mountains, lakes, and rustic life.
A few weeks ago, when our friend Marco sent us a picture of the giant Porcini he had found, we discovered his passion for mushroom hunting and that he was even following a course to get the "patentino", license. "And not poison anyone", my husband Luca would add.
When I wrote back, "Voglio venire anch'io!", me too, he learned that as a child, my father would take my sister, brothers, and me on hunting excursions as well. In Monte Livata, a tiny mountain town near Rome very en vogue in the eighties, supposedly to become THE skiing destination of the capital. But never made it, mostly because it snows just that bit to enjoy a winter wonderland but not enough to whizz on the slopes. Unless they add artificial snow.
Anyway, although my mother would never ever have even a bite of the Porcini and Pinaroli we brought home - and forbid it to my younger siblings -, my brother and I have had many feasts. Grilling them in the fireplace added momentum and ritualization to a great culinary experience.

car drive
So on a Tuesday morning (the only days mushroom hunting is permitted in Lazio are Tuesdays, Fridays, and the weekend), my friend and I drove North of Rome. Accompanied by a categoric ban from my husband to bringing home any mushroom, not even if we were a hundred percent sure they were Porcini. I tried to find a mycological center, institutions where experts check your treasures and certify their edibility, but they were too far from our house. Plus, I wasn't sure this would be reassurance enough for Luca. So I'd go for the adventure and leave the treasures to Marco.
I nevertheless brought my cute basket with me. You never know.
Mushroom hunting is a universe of secret spots, long walks, a lot of patience, and luck. That day, we had everything except for the latter. Someone had passed by that morning, leaving behind just a few checked and abandoned Porcini-like mushrooms, many poisonous - or not, but beneath Marco's self-confidence - but also a looooooot of chestnuts!
So, while my friend didn't abandon his mission, I texted my greengrocer friend Isa to check for Porcini for the coming week and converted to chestnut hunting. In five minutes, my basket was packed with spiny treasures - I later learned I should have taken them out of the husk, to gain space in the basket and fill it furtherly. But I am no greedy. Plus, they looked so nice, and I thought they'd look even cuter on the fireplace mantel.
chestnut basket
After that, I did follow Marco on his hunt, loving the idea of a good forest walk and dedicating my time to photographing all the mushrooms we encountered. The cuter, I soon found, the more toxic.
brown mushroom
Marco hunting
yellow mushroom
cute mushroom
blue mushroom
tree mushroom
mushrooms on tree
brown mushroom
Except for the totally Hallloweenish "Trombette Dei Morti", the dead trumpets that I later learned are not only edible but called "the truffles of the poor".
We even found San Girolamo's hermitage, a place I have to go back to.
Back home, a couple of days later, I was walking around the neighborhood and found a greengrocer showcasing a lot of mushrooms. So I invested a little capital - I totally get the hunting thing now that I've paid more attention to the skyrocketing prices - in Finferli, chanterelles. We had them raw, julienned into a salad with just a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a few drops of lemon juice, and parmesan flakes. Plus a giant Ovolo that I sauteed in a little olive oil, garlic, and mint leaves and used to season Linguine.
It was a special night.
As for Porcini, Isa hasn't found them, but our neighborhood restaurant did:
And who knows, maybe next time Marco and I challenge the woods...

That's it for today, cari funghetti.
Buona domenica!



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