Sunday, September 09, 2007

I love fall in Germany. There is simply no comparison to the dessicated oven heat of the Texas "fall" and the silent screams of the leaves as they leave tiny smoke trails, burnt from the trees in 90- 100 degree heat.

In Texas, we lived for the "blue norther"a violent sweep of cold air from the Plains refreshing the Texas oven.

Today the German winds were blustery, but in a friendly way. The sun came out and warmed things up, and the wind kept playfully tossing boughs, leaves, and smaller livestock about. If something larger than a cow blows across the alley, we know to stay in. Temps were above 50 F, which is downright summery for this part of the world.

I took advantage of the good weather (read, not precipitating) to head up the nearest hill into the outdoor grocery. You never know what's on special, this time of year! Blueberries and cranberries both hang around for months. The mushrooms really get down to business in the cool damp of fall. I just had to look around to see what the "specia
l" was.
Turns out it was Marone, Xerocomus badius, the Bay Bolete. I got a couple of other strays in there, and decided one was a Bitter Bolete. Good thing, too, those damn things can ruin an entire dish.

Here, it's a time-honored tradition to set out into the woods with a bag or basket. The old folks (Oma and Opa) will ask you what you found, gladly inspect it, and offer commentary in thick dialect.

In my hiking boots and woodland greens, my DEET-soaked hat, staff, and shoulder bag, I was obviously "in Schwammerle gehen" going into the sponges/mushrooms.

Batting, pinching and flicking away the friendly deer lice (imagine a giant flying louse, just as bad as it sounds!) despite the pure DEET I've sprayed on cuffs, socks, hat and collar, I set up the gentle hillside though blueberry bushes and pine forest. The deer lice are only mildly nonplussed by DEET, fortunately they are soft, detectable and easy to kill. Four of
them came out of my hair in the shower, despite the hat. I wear a black Permethrin ballcap.

Immediately, I began to find the bay boletes, some attacked by another white fungus. I didn't collect these, as it's not wise to mix fungi. My bag filled with nice bay boletes, and I found many almost 10 inches (23 cm) in breadth, though they were riddled with other fungi and worms. I left them to spread spores.

I had no luck with Cantherellus cibarius, or Pfifferlinge in German.
I did find a Sparassus crispus, or cauliflower mushroom. Having seen it before, I collected bunches of it to take hom
e and double, triple and quadruple check. I've always loved the rich smell of this one, but I am so careful of fungi I am not acquainted with, and don't take new ones home easily.

I cooked the crispus with roots of the Jerusalem Artichoke, or Topinambur as it's known here, in regular and herb butters with shallots. I nibbled several handfuls with salt, and will note any effects later. It was very good, and would be so nice with eggs or in soup! I just have to see how *I* react to it. I don't do well with Lactarius, they give me the trots (diarrhea) so I have learned to be extra super careful.

I made a cream and red wine sauce of the bay boletes to go with the meatloaf (also containing bay boletes) and mashed potatoes I made for a man sick with a stomach virus, who is also recovering from hip replacement surgery.

It brings out the medicine woman in me, when my man gets sick in the fall.. he does it every fall. As much as he loves Germany, the onset of cold weather does him in every year. If not in fall, then in February, around his birthday. I'm not sure how different it would be in any other climate, but here, it's very predictable.

I've beat up and made tea of my old Korean ginseng root, I've slipped echinacea extract into his fresh (from our gardens, thanks to our landlord) apple juice, and stewed and smashed rose hips into spiced wine for his improvement. In the woods, I hoped to find Grifola frondosa, or "hen of the woods" to feed him, for immunity.

It's bad every year, but if we can't get his endurance above water after the surgery this year, it's going to be bloody miserable.

This is the medicine woman, going out to collect handfuls and handfuls of rose hips, for lots of tea and constant dosings.The mechanical fixes perhaps don't pay attention to the function of the deep long bone marrow in terms of immunity, endurance, vitality, and deep, general health.

This is the difference between what the allopathic docs do, no matter how much we need it.. and what we can do for ourselves.

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