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These are morel mushrooms.

morelThey are a special culinary delicacy, going for as much as $50 per pound fresh. As a child, my family and I used to hunt for these special woodland gems. Each family has it’s own secret tricks. In an old apple orchard. In an elm stand, a cedar grove. My grandfather insists that you must place the mushrooms in an old paper sugar sack so they don’t sweat or break down.

The City of Irvine hosts the annual Mountain Mushroom Festival each spring. I went with my good friends, David and Kathryn, and met up with some of their friends. We walked through the booths and looked for goodies.

Gotta love the cheese dip on the chin!

Gotta love the cheese dip on the chin!

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We discovered the typical fair concession food, including corn dogs, cheese steak sandwiches, and lemonade. And some locally ground grits and cornmeal…. We saw some interestingly dressed people. And a llama. Emu eggs. Random junk sold as treasure.

The Mushroom Festival also featured an Agate Hunt/Gem & Mineral Show. (For those who don’t know what agates are, check out this link.) Aren’t they just lovely?

agateIt was a wonderful little weekend trip. It was great to spend time with some awesome people celebrating an equally awesome fungi. (Recipes using morels to follow later this week).

Kathryn and I in front of a giant wooden morel.

Kathryn and I in front of a giant wooden morel.

*The first and fourth photos taken by Kathryn. The rest by me.

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