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Julian and his prize.

Julian and his prize.

For years I’ve dreamed of hunting for mushrooms. These almost illusive, sought-after fungi were surely only for the expert spotter – until today. I’m spending time with my brother, sister-in-law and nephew in their mountain home in Colorado. Hiking the quiet, unpopulated alpine trails is their passion as well as practicing the art of foraging.

A perfect specimen!

A perfect specimen!

Boletes, or more specifically, King Bolete, the mushrooms we were seeking, are also known as Cepes in France and Porcini in Italy. These are no ordinary mushrooms but a prized culinary delicacy. They grow at high elevations here in the Colorado Rockies and hide themselves in the forest, nestled under spruce trees

My European sister-in-law, Mirna, was the perfect teacher in showing me what to look for and how to tell the edibles from the poisonous. She learned the art from her father as a young girl, foraging the forests of Croatia. About 1/2 hour into our hike, Mirna spotted the first Bolete of the day. A smooth cinnamon-colored cap lay solo tucked next to a spruce log.Unearthing
Mirna demonstrated how to dig deep around the wide stem, making sure to dislodge the entire mushroom. Soon after, our eyes trained, we were calling “Bolete!” to signal each other that another one of these randomly placed treasures was discovered.

Mushroom hand

My Belle Soeur (sister-in-law), Mirna and me.

My Belle Soeur (sister-in-law), Mirna and me.

Unearthing my first mushroom!

Unearthing my first mushroom!

Voila! Dinner tonight!

Voila! Dinner tonight!

Our day's forage.

Our day’s forage.

Hiking down the mountain, our bag full of large, tasty mushrooms, I felt a surge of admiration for Mother Nature and thanked her repeatedly. This was the best day of my life!

If only one could tell true love from false love as one can tell mushrooms from toadstools
Katherine Mansfield