My God. Has the time come around so quickly? Is it time for me to gear up, for the thousandth time, and head out to the Santa Cruz Fungus Fair?
My eyes bugged out when I realized that the fair is now in its 39th year! That means 19 years have passed since I first set foot in this festival dedicated entirely to fungus. That year I went to an event called “Fungal Favorites: A Taste Test” and watched bearded, Guatemalan-sweater-wearing locals manhandle, squeeze and even sniff such fungi as the “big laughing mushroom,” the “insidious gomphidius,” the “sheep’s head floccularia,” the “cute conic waxy cap” along with the “poison pie” and the “cloudy clitocybe.” As I recall, some of the edible mushrooms had less-than-edible-sounding descriptions. Take, for instance, the ‘delicious milk cap,” which is “thought to be more delicious by Europeans than Americans. This sturdy orange mushroom becomes slimy when wet, turns green when bruised or aged, and exudes an orange milky substance when broken.” Not the sort of thing you want to slice into your omelette!
Anyhow, you’d better believe I’m going be be there again when the event rolls around in about a week’s time. See you all there!(and thank you very much to my friend James Shiffer, who sent me the original account of that age-old fungus festival from 1994. He helped jar my memories.)