Tastes like Watermelon?
I did not move to Ohio for the weather… So, with big dreams of finding the “Spendy” and well sought after Morchellas more widely known as Morel Mushrooms, in our local forests this past weekend, my husband and I went “Shrooming.” Under an azure sunny sky, we tromped through miles of damp and marshy woods avoiding poison ivy, and walking through spider webs all while dreaming of toasting our foraged finds with a rich full bodied red wine and a dinner of Morel Madeira Crostini under the stars later that night. Ummm… ROOKIES!!
By mid afternoon, we were VERY FRUSTRATED and beginning to wonder if we had a better chance of stumbling across the Grimm Brothers’ Hansel and Gretel far before we even came close to finding a single earthy and delicious tasting morel. Knee deep in briers, feet sunk stubbornly into the mud, and in the middle of absolutely nowhere, my nerdy, but cute husband surfed the internet on his Blackberry. As he was reading posts on the Ohio Morels & Mushrooms Message Board where other foragers were already reporting finds in the hundreds just a few miles away and scanning Google Earth attempting to find a better location, I was off exploring a very funky mushroom growing out of a dead tree close by.
Flipping through the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms section on Polypores and other shelflike mushrooms, I identified my truly bizarre looking find as being a Polyporus Squamosus also known as Dryad’s Saddle.
Intrigued by the little I know of the Dryads in Greek Mythology, I continued to read on. According to the guide, the Polyporus Squamosu is a “Large, fleshy, tough, scaly, yellowish-brown cap with large, white to yellowish pores and a descending short stalk. Cap 2 3/8-12″ (6-30 cm) wide… Flesh 0.5-3.5 cm thick; white. Odor and taste like watermelon rind.” TASTES LIKE WATERMELON RIND?!!
Ok, I can not even begin to imagine what that experience was like for the mycologist who discovered it, because nothing about this freaky looking thing said, “Tear me off the tree, take me home in your pretty little basket, and serve me to your family disguised as Pickled Watermelon Rind.” ICK!!
So yes, to be candidly honest, I am not a mycologist and you could not pay enough money to get me to salivate over the thought of chewing a rubbery hunk of watermelon flavored fungi. But, I did find it fascinating to photograph and I happily took a ton of pictures.
We never did find any morels this past weekend, but there were other edibles out in the forest. We picked wild onions for Potato Pancakes and some dandelions to make Dandelion Jelly. But, we left the Watemelon flavored and scented Polyporus Squamosus in the depths of the Mohican State Park for someone either braver then us or for Bourdain to discover.