Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Castagne e Funghi

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose....Who knows what chestnuts are anyway? I always thought they were just an easy joke for the immature and perverted mind, I didn't know that they truly existed and that people actually ate them. Sunday I finally found meaning to this yuletide carol nut because I went hunting for them in the forest with my fake family. Hilarious! Chestnuts are enclosed in this shell that is similar in spikiness to a sea urchin and there is a certain technique you use with your feet to open and expose the nuts. I feel like I'm telling the polar bear joke. Anyway, we found a lot of chestnuts that I am going to preserve and send home so that we can all try them! They have a good flavor and they are sort of chalky in texture. Interesting.
What a chestnut looks like
My basket full of chestnuts

The gorgeous forest
The sun peeking in around the trees
We also found some mushrooms in the forest. It was so hard because Benny kept pointing to different types of mushrooms and was quizzing me on the type of species and if it was toxic, edible, fatal, or just plain not good to eat. I was getting frustrated because once I got one type down he would switch to another and I kept getting them so mixed up. He would look at me disappointedly when I didn't know the answer. Oops.

Benny's two favorite things: Funghi and Eli
Beautiful Fungus
Upside-down Fungus
Previously in the week (Saturday) I went to a mushroom convention with Benny. There he taught me some of the species and classifications of mushrooms (hence the quiz the following afternoon in the forest). I got to meet the President and Vice President of the Mushroom Association - both of which know every species and classification of mushroom. Little did I know how popular mushroom hunting was here or that it even existed. I told my program director about this hobby and he said, "Imagine organizing an Elder's Quorum activity to go mushroom hunting in the forest, scarves included." Never in a million years BUT that's why I love Italy.
Man- Pres Woman- Vice (notice the man's scarf - he's handsome)

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