Wild mushrooms are truly wild in many parts of Italy, especially in Liguria. In the cool autumn, particularly after a warm late summer with just enough rain, Italian foragers tromp to their special spots amid great secrecy and excitement, searching out the truly luxurious riches of the forests and fields. Many restaurants in funghi-rich areas, prepare entire meals based on a treasure trove of porcini, Caesar's mushroom, oyster, or chanterelle mushrooms.
Wild mushrooms are cooked in a wide variety of fashions, particularly in the neighborhood of Varese Ligure, which specializes in mushrooms and exports large quantities of them, both fresh and dried. Tocco de funzi, mushroom sauce, is a popular condiment for polenta or pasta.
When buying mushrooms, look for firm and relatively dry caps and stems. Bruised or obviously damaged mushrooms should be avoided except in the case of split porcini, which have been opened to show their lack of worm infestation. Store mushrooms in the coolest party of the house, wrap in paper, not plastic and use them quickly, as they do not age to any advantage. Mushrooms should be foraged in the wild on by experts, as there are several cognates, many of the m poisonous, for each species. If ever in doubt, throw the mushrooms out, no one dies from mushrooms in the trash.
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