No Sleepy or Grumpy here, but like the seven dwarfs, we could give names to the tastes and smells of mushrooms. From Smokey, Earthy and Woody to Buttery, Rich and Meaty, and my favorite, Nutty. All of these wonderful flavors can be found in a variety of mushrooms and although the wild mushroom season in Mexico has more or less already passed, there are still enough choices to satisfy the palate.
I have always thought that they are the foundation of the earth, where trees, moss and life grow. When we talk about their magical, mystical character we’re referring to their sponge-like ability to absorb the flavor profiles of the sauces, herbs and spices that we serve with them, and not the hallucinogenic qualities.
Add a few mushrooms to a classic pozole or caldo de res to make it your own. To any dish that already has beans as an ingredient, the addition of mushrooms will give it an explosion of flavors. Think the yin-yang of food combos.
Let’s take a short and deeply flavored journey through this wondrous world and come spring, we will eagerly make additions to this list.
Champignons (Agaricus) or button mushrooms are plump, dome-shaped and one of the world’s most recognized mushrooms, ranging from thimble to fist-sized. Sautée in browned butter with a touch of garlic, paprika and cilantro. Top a tortilla with this mixture, and some Oaxacan cheese. Oh my!
Duraznillos – The word rolls off the tongue, just like the French version, the chanterelle. Bell-shaped and a pale yellow, with a slightly chewy texture, these are best used in soups, sauces and rice dishes.
Pambazos – Similar to a cepe or the Italian porcino. The fresh mushroom should be sliced and added to a dish to give it a hint of pungency, while the dried variety should be reconstituted in liquid and imparts a more concentrated flavor.
Morillas – Like the French morel, they belong to the expensive truffle family, albeit at a fraction of the cost. They have a dark brown color and a spongy, honeycombed cap. Perfect in a sauce over a pork or lamb shank or steak due to their strong and nutty flavor.
Now, head to the numerous markets (mercados) or vegetable or grocery stores with basket in hand and stock up on this so versatile fungus.