It was 8:35pm last night when the news rolled in. It came in the form of an email from a reader named Tom, who had attached a photo of a beautiful local fruiting of maitake (hen of the woods) and told me it was time to update the ForageCast.
With the abundant rainfall and cool early September nights, I knew maitake would be here soon. But it was Tom’s sighting that sent me into a frenzy, and after a restless sleep I jumped out of bed early this morning to check on a favorite spot before work. By 8:35am today, exactly twelve hours after receiving Tom’s email, I was walking out of the woods triumphantly with a hefty hen in my backpack.
After waxing poetic about maitake’s gustatory, nutritional, and medicinal properties last August in a post entitled, “Awaiting the Maitake Dance,” I was sorely disappointed when I did not find a single hen all fall. Perhaps the hen of the woods was punishing me for my bravado; after all, in the post I boasted of maitake’s reliability and spoke of my plans for the “surplus” harvest I expected.
So, it had been two full years since maitake had met my lips when I lifted a forkful of it to my mouth today, atop ham with toasted sage leaves. Let’s just say that my tongue was handsomely rewarded for its years of waiting.