Throughout the autumn and winter months, Italian foragers tromp to their special spots amid great secrecy and excitement, searching out the truly luxurious riches of the forests and fields. Many restaurants in funghi-rich areas prepare entire meals based on a treasure trove of porcini, Caesar’s mushroom, oyster, or chanterelle.
When buying mushrooms, look for firm and relatively dry caps and stems. Bruised or obviously damaged mushrooms should be avoided except in the case of split porcini, which have been opened to show their lack of worm infestation. Store mushrooms in the coolest part of the house, wrap in paper (not plastic) and use them quickly, as they do not age to any advantage. Mushrooms should be foraged in the wild by experts only, as there are several cognates for each species, many of them poisonous If ever in doubt, throw the mushrooms out- no one dies from mushrooms in the trash.