sautéed brain, veeries

May 29th, 2008 | Uncategorized

morel 3

That’s actually a morel mushroom that magically appeared in my yard on Tuesday.

morel 2

I wouldn’t have noticed it, but my friend the moose did. We did a bit of research and learned that there are false morels, which you shouldn’t eat. But they’re not hollow inside. So we sliced this one open, and look!

morel in half

It was delicious. And as if that wasn’t enough natural bounty, the veeries returned the same day. Listen to their sweet spiral song.

A few business notes: Don’t worry, I’m sending copies of the Daily Distress to all participants when it’s available. And I should have leftovers, so I’ll let people know they can send a SASE if they want one.

Katie will soon be on task to contact all the contest contributors for their mailing addresses.

Someone asked whether The Essential DTWOF, coming out this fall, will include all the episodes through the last one, 527. Yes, it will.

It’ll also include a cool map of the town that I’ve been laboring over. Here’s a photo of it under construction. Maps are frickin’ complicated!


67 Responses to “sautéed brain, veeries”

  1. Mame says:

    this is your brain on sabbatical…heheheheh

  2. June says:

    I love the street names.

  3. spoilsport says:

    I really liked your map in Fun Home, and it is a cool map of the town. I look forward to buying The Essential from my not so local but independent bookstore.

  4. 'Ff'lo says:

    Oh, everybody lives offa I-92, hunh? Google…. a famously unbuilt Interstate! Ha!

  5. The Cat Pimp says:

    I have never eaten a morel. How do they taste?

  6. geogeek says:

    Hey, your brains reminded me of Dori Seda’s “Let’s Eat Brains!” Was that on purpose? Probably.

  7. Nele says:

    Mhm, that morsel rather reminds me of a cut up and fried phallic symbol… 😉

  8. --MC says:

    The invention of Dr. Morel.

  9. Rohmie says:

    I’m confused. Why did you eat them, if you shouldn’t? And what was inside if they are not hollow? They look hollow in the pix. Again, I’m confused.

    This is why I don’t eat mushrooms. Who ever heard of a poisoned carrot?

  10. Leah says:

    I am sooooo jealous! I love morels and have not been able to find any since I moved to Texas last year!

  11. chris g says:

    That’s funny, my family house is on Rt. 4, which is the route that I-92 was going to replace!

  12. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Yeek! Has anyone here read Dori Seda’s great comic about eating brains? 😀
    There are lots of morels that grow here in Minnesota, but by a perverse feat of legal maneuvering, we never get to eat them, at least not in restaurants….something complicated having to do with food buyers and providers.

  13. Ian says:

    Looks more like tripe or squid to me … 😉

    Essential looks like it’s gonna be amazing. A 12-page extra bit, the map … I can’t wait!

  14. April says:

    As a vegetarian zombie, I am intrigued by this post.

  15. Ellen O. says:

    Rohmie —

    If you re-read Alison’s words you’ll see she’s not poisoning herself. She wrote

    “We did a bit of research and learned that there are false morels, which you shouldn’t eat.”

    In other words, “false morels exist.”

    “ But they [the false morels] are not hollow inside. So we sliced this one open, and look!”

    Alison’s morels were hollow, false morels are solid, hence, Alison’s morels were true morels, not poisonous, and, apparently, delicious.

    Last spring I hunted for King Boletes, which also look like a mushroom that is poisonous. I wonder if looking poisonous is a survival mechanism?

  16. Nicely put,Ellen.

    Did you take Symbolic Logic when you were at Oberlin? I did, and got a B minus.

  17. freyakat says:

    Hey Alison or whoever,

    I have never understood the meaning of the expression ‘my friend the moose’ — and after several months of wondering I guess I’ll finally ask: why ‘moose’?

  18. Debs says:

    You found a morel!!!! I’m jealous. I’m hoping to go morel hunting in the mountains sometime this next month. If my ex doesn’t keep flaking on me. Sigh.

  19. notpeanut says:

    freyakat, for the answer to your question, check out the February 5 post, “short note” and the comments about it (sorry I don’t know how to do the fancy-schmancy stuff like linking to another posting).

    Ellen O., Yeah, I seem to remember reading somewhere that looking poisonous is a survival mechanism. Like Monarch butterflies are poisonous to birds, and there are a bunch of nonpoisonous but similar-looking butterflies that benefit by fooling birds that they *are* poisonous.

  20. I’m sorry, Freyakat. I have to remember to write here as if readers haven’t necessarily seen any previous posts. The moose is my girlfriend Holly. I call her the moose because when I first mentioned her on the blog, it was in a post that included a drawing of a moose, and someone wondered if in fact the moose was my girlfriend, and I said yes.

    Uhhh…you kinda had to be there I guess.

    I’ll stop calling her the moose.

  21. shadocat says:

    No don’t stop; unless Holly asks you, that is.

  22. Dr. Empirical says:

    My final year of grad school involved extensive work with pig brains. Before the slaughterhouse would let me take them, I had to sign a release promising not to eat them. It was not a difficult commitment to make.

    I think I’d rather eat a pig brain than a fungus, especially one I found in my yard!

    freyakat: The blog entry in which Alison announced that she was dating someone was headed by a completely unrelated drawing of a moose. I joked that Alison was dating a moose, Alison joked that the antlers were just strap-ons, and a pointless inside joke was born.

    “The Moose” is a MUCH cooler nickname than “Compostmaven.”

  23. The Other Andi says:

    Morels are SOOOOOOO delicious. Speaking of foraging, have you found any ramps yet this year? Last year there was a brief discussion on this blog about ramps, which are wild leeks and are also delicious. Nature — I’m coming to appreciate it as more than “a place you must pass through in order to get from your apartment into a taxicab,” as Fran Lebowitz says.

  24. In fact I yanked up some ramps and cooked them with that same meal. But in a different dish.

    I felt like Euel Gibbons! Anyone remember him?

  25. Maggie Jochild says:

    I READ his books! And watched a documentary about him. And read John McPhee’s essay about him.

    “Kinda reminds me of wild hick’ry nuts…”

  26. Suz says:

    LOVE John McPhee. He makes so much that I’d find totally uninteresting, interesting.

    I’m impressed at the confidence it takes to take wild stuff from your yard and eat it. I feel like anything I didn’t plant needs to come from someone who can verify that it’s actually food.

  27. freyakat says:

    (A while later) related to my earlier post: no, don’t stop calling her the moose. I’ve been reading (and loving) the blog for a long time, but somehow I must have ‘blipped over’ the post with the moose drawing and related comments.

  28. tas says:

    Still my favorite: Nether Heights Elementary School.

  29. morris da kat says:

    Yes, I remember Euel Gibbons – met him at an Outward Bound course in Maine – you’ve got me motivated to search the woods now – LOVE morels !!

  30. Christine says:

    Oh gosh….I thought I was the only one who remembers Euel. Now ya got me hungry for pine cones!!

  31. Alex K says:

    @Ellen O.: “Alison’s morels were hollow, false morels are solid.”

    The misspelt dialectic.

  32. the moose says:

    All I can say is, would it were that she had drawn a fox on that fateful day…

  33. morris da kat says:


  34. Sonya says:

    I am SO JEALOUS of your morel! I’ve never been able to find one. The co-op here sells dried morels, but… that’s not really the same.

    I am also jealous of what looks like a nice little cast iron pan. I’ve always wanted cast iron cookware, but haven’t made the investment yet.

    I picked and ate some wild leeks (aka ramps) for the first time this year (shameless blog link: I sauteed them in butter and salt and they were *amazing*. I’ve really got to get out in the woods again next week and pick some more. Does anybody have some good recipes?

    I remember Euell Gibbons too! I inherited my copy of “Stalking the Wild Asparagus” from my great-uncle Claude who grew or foraged for nearly all his food, including making his own maple syrup/sugar and growing buckwheat for flour. Sigh, I miss Claude.

  35. map_lover_beth says:

    I so LOVE LOVE LOVE the map…the bathymetry in the lakes, the street names, the views into the neighborhoods. I hope the final version will have a scale bar because I often wonder, just how far does Stuart bike in a day…and what is the topography of the town (this might put the map over the edge in terms of complexity though). I can’t wait to see the real one on paper!

  36. Chris says:

    Veeries ahoy! One of my favorite voices in the woods.

    But inquiring/obsessed/sauteed minds still want to know, what’s singing in that previous thrush post? I’m one of the lower-income whiners unable to make the Flickr video work on any computer I can get my hands on. I’m letting it bug me all out of proportion; I used to get paid to identify and census frogs, birds, insects et cetera by sound. I don’t like to doubt Elizabeth’s call as Wood Thrush; the hair-splitter in me knows, though, that the Wood Thrush’s final trills/rolled-r notes may sound sorta like the Hermit Thrush’s end-of-phrase “noodling” note, so. Anyone care to waste bandwidth and further enlighten me, or just post the darn clip on YouTube so I can see it? Technologically-impaired former field biologists with nothing better to do thank you.

  37. Chris says:

    Have you read Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World? You should. Helps if you know biology and chemistry, but even if you don’t, you can still learn a lot about fungi, what they can do for us (medicinally, bioremediationally (yeah, that’s a word 😉 ), and otherwise), and what we can do for them. The thought that spawned my evangelical plug, off Ellen’s comment above, why some fungal fruiting bodies (mushrooms) should be poisonous to us when ingested and others should not, I dunno. Surely the mycelia (main bodies of the fungal organism) “know” that a big lumbering beast that can assist in scattering spores (by, say, brushing against a mushroom) would do that whether or not it ate the mushroom in question? All you have to do is look at some mushrooms wrong, and *poof* there’s a cloud of spores released. Everything’s poisonous to something somewhere somehow, eh?

  38. AndreaC says:

    Wow…. learning that they live off a famously unbuilt interstate makes me feel deliciously unsettled. Like they exist in some nearby parallel universe that could at any moment crash down upon us if they ever got around to building that road.

    I swear I haven’t been eating any funny mushrooms, though.

  39. Deena in OR says:

    Euell Gibbons…oh, yes! I remember reading to the point of obsession a National Geographic article written about him taking a dozen or so “real people” aged 11 to mid adulthood to an island in New England to live off the land for a month with (nearly) no outside food, except a few staples like spices. It was published in 1971 or 2. Anyone else remember it?

  40. Susan says:

    My mother and I hunted morels when I was a kid and we lived in Arkansas. Best place for huntin’ was down on the War Eagle River…they were always under the birch trees. In true Arkansas fashion she battered and fried ’em up for supper.

  41. One summer my dad was reading Stalking the Wild Asparagus, and we made batter fried elderflowers. They were excellent.

    But to be fair, batter fried cardboard would probably be excellent too.

  42. Deena in OR says:

    Too true. Back in my family daycare provider days, I made a snarky comment to my ex about feeding the daycare kids frittered veggies…”Put fat, flour and sugar on it, and kids will eat anything.”

  43. kat says:

    Fried elderflowers? intriguing… favorite soda alternative is elderflower presse`

  44. Straight Ally says:

    Yep, I too remember Stalking the Wild Asparagus et al.

    And now for something completely different: a diary (blog entry) at the Daily Kos by the new governor of New York, David A. Paterson,

    Protecting the Rights of Married Couples–particularly same-sex couples who have gotten married in other states and jurisdictions.

    Some of you might like the Daily Kos, a key mission of which is to elect more and better Democrats. The only warning I feel might be needed is that it’s overwhelmingly Obama country.

  45. pd says:

    Suz, John McPhee is the only non-fiction author whose books I buy with no reviews, and regardless of subject, because he can make absolutely *anything* interesting; from living in the Alaskan outback, to working on a cargo ship, to developing weird aircraft, to geology and ecology.

  46. NLC says:

    Since somebody brought him up: I’ve long been a fan of McPhee’s. Recently I’ve found another author I like for many of the same reasons (cool topics, with long discursive asides that can make anything –even more– fascinating), the British writer Simon Winchester. To pick two of his books _The Professor and the Madman_, about some of the folks who put together the O.E.D. [as with McPhee, many of his topics, when plainly stated, sound really blah] and his book on Krakatoa.

  47. Chris says:

    Aw, overbearing fangirls/obsessed birdgeeks love you. Or at least we love your facilitation of Wood Thrush (yes!) audio experience. Washes the stink of campaign BS right out of the soul. (latest stink, for the interested masochists, being McCain re: Pfleger comments on Clinton.) Ee-o-lay! I can’t smell it anymore!

  48. ready2agitate says:

    …to continue, cook anything in butter & salt, and it’ll taste good. (Personally, that translates to olive oil & tamari, w/a little nutritional yeast sprinkled on top – esp. greens of all shades! ~sorry no ramps recipes here).

    Dang it’s time for some grape nuts!

  49. Feminista says:

    Yes,let’s have some high bush cranberries with that cereal. Not able to find that particular berry,I had delioious organic strawberries from the farmers’ market with my morning oat hulls and wheat chaff (AKA Grape Nuts).

  50. Chris says:


    Thanks(?) for preparing us for the inevitable in the DTWOF-verse a few years ago. But still, crap.

  51. Deena in OR says:

    I took my daughter and her friends to the mall today. While I was wandering around waiting for them I ran into a guy wearing a Utilikilt and wrangling an obstreperous toddler. I saw them again 5 minutes later, and his partner had joined him. An Asian woman. All I could think of was how much I wished I had a camera with me so that I could grab a picture for all of you.

    (Feminista…it was at Lloyd Center.)

  52. Feminista says:

    Deena–Did he look like Stuart,by any chance? Or was he a Braveheart wannabe?

    My daughter now attends medical asst.classes and works part time,both at Lloyd Center. Perhaps there will be another siting. Maybe we should have another meet-up there! (Just kidding–I avoid malls.)

    I’ve only seen men in their 20s and 30s,sans kids,wearing Utilikilts in the Portland area. But I’ll be on the lookout for dads with Utilikilts.

  53. Ariadne says:

    “Many parts are edible…”

    That is a beautiful, and might I say, enormous morel! My most recent vicarious mushroom score was by my sweetie, riding the bike home after the truck broke down, and finding about 20 pounds of oyster mushrooms growing on a cottonwood log. After looking in the mushroom ID book and finding that none in that family of fungi are poisonous, we were delighted to see that further IDing showed them to be “edible, choice.” They sure were!

    You may have morels in that place again this time next year. Did you put down wood chips or recently have a tree fall there?

  54. Danyell says:

    Oh yes! Let us know when the Essential book comes out! Yayayay!

    Also, mushrooms = awesome!

  55. Macci says:

    Ooo! Ooo! I love maps! Especially ones that depict places that exist only in our minds. We get to design out world down to the sweet details (like the street names).
    There are some wonderful maps on this blog, Strange Maps

  56. The Cat Pimp says:

    Looking at the photo makes me think of the old saying, “Oh tempura, oh morels”

  57. Ellen O. says:

    I would think the trickiest thing about drawing a map for this collection is covering the range of 25 years. Did you depict Stuart’s old place and/or Clarice and Toni’s old and new house? Does showing Sydney and Mo’s apartment give away the fact that they’ll be moving into together? (On the other hand, will new readers who start at the beginning read the map before they start?)

    The biggest question– will you name the town on the map? Hmm…

  58. Deena in OR says:

    To echo June up at the top of the thread-I love the herstorical names on the map. Hard to read G – L on Flicker with IE, though, even at 150%. Oh, well…maybe it’s just my middle aged eyes.

  59. Maggie Jochild says:

    Deena, I tried to post about the names twice before (a few days ago) but it never went through. I think it would make a great puzzle, to name all the herstorical and/or literary references to which the names allude. I could not make out one in the middle. Here’s the Avenues I could see, from West to East:
    E. Roosevelt (notice that she is on top of Hickock, tee-hee)
    Klaich? (As in Dolores? It has to be a K and end in ch, so that’s the only one I could think of which that fits)
    Lyon (I only got this one because Martin is next)

  60. Ian says:

    Remember the episode with Stuart and JR in the fountain? I like to think of that location as Bechdel Square.

  61. hyla crucifer says:

    Mmmm. Morels. Our ramp season in the Finger Lakes is over, sadly . . . but for a few weeks there, ramps with nearly every meal.

    I love how my preoccupations always eventually find their way onto this blog. Mycelium Running was mentioned above, and I’d likely to highly, highly recommend the following video of a lecture by Paul Stamets, which will blow. your. mind.

  62. Linda says:

    Curious philologists need to know: are ‘Ramps’ what we know as ‘Ramsons’ in Scotland, i.e. wild garlic?

    And I think you’d like a new book just published here called ‘Seaweed and Eat it!’

  63. Emily says:

    Morels are so delicious! You are so lucky to have such wonderful natural treats at your fingertips! I have to by them from “Whole Paycheck” and they are outrageously expensive…but totally worth it.

  64. siena says:

    but wait – if I-92 was going to connect New England, does that finally pin down the location of DTWOF?

  65. Justin says:

    Some time ago. more than 20 years if I think about it, Morels started popping up around my parents house and my place of work, both near Boston. Several delicious meals followed, but the morels have yet to reappear. Thanks for reminding me of a wonderful gift from mother nature.

  66. Robin B says:

    If you saute morels in some butter, some minced shallots, some thyme, a splash of marsala or port and some cream – and put the cooked mixed over toast – you have an absolutely delicious meal. A salad on the side makes the dining complete.

  67. Stephanie says:

    This mushroom looks like a brain!!!