ROUNDABOUT: Mushroom Lady
Long-time readers of the News Guide may well be acquainted with Reenie Rice’s knack for finding, and harvesting, wild mushrooms: she’s been pictured in several issues over the years with her finds. This week, when she popped in to show us the results of her recent foray into the woods – a giant puffball mushroom — I decided to delve a little more into her interesting hobby.
Reenie recalls learning the fine art of foraging for wild foods from her Native American father, Clarence Rice. From the time she was a child, she would often accompany him on trips into the woods in and around Arlington, where he would forage for wild leeks, dandelions, cowslip, fiddleheads and more. It was there that she honed her skills of observation and a lifelong curiosity of the natural world. In her teens, she began to specialize in mushrooms, learning everything she could about them.
As you might imagine, Reenie enjoys cooking with mushrooms. She frequently harvests more than she can use, so she sells them to local chefs. She adds that they freeze well, but warns not to wash them first; she also dries them the old-fashioned way, in the sun.
Reenie shared a few words of advice for anyone who is interested in foraging; get a good field guide, study it, and wander…you never know what you’ll find, or where!
Reenie uses mesh bags to collect her finds so any spores present will fall onto the forest floor, where they belong.
Caution is always advised, of course. If you don’t know if a mushroom is safe to eat, keep it separate from the rest of your harvest, bring it home and research it. She adds that it’s always a good idea to have someone more knowledgable involved in these cases, and added that she’d be happy to assist. You can call me and I’ll let her know.
Readers, I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you as VNG’s Editor. If you know of a unique experience, an interesting place or a local personality, I hope you will share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.