Way back in the 60’s, ( the 1860’s that is), when Italian immigrants first began living and farming on California’s North Coast, they surely must have noticed the wild boletus mushrooms they called Porcinis (because they resembled little pigs), popping up in area woodlands. Yet it took more than a century for wild mushrooms to become a popular commodity in Northern California culinary culture.
Eric Schramm was one of the first “rain-chasers” (as mushroom-hunters are sometimes called), to begin selling his foraged mushrooms to restaurants in Mendocino county.
“I really had to search thirty years ago to find people who wanted to buy my mushrooms”, recalls Schramm, an ex-forest ranger, who in 1983 discovered the presence of the prized Matsutake mushroom in the county.
Today Schramm’s Mendocino Mushroom Company provides the seasonal bounty of NorthCoast mushrooms to a global community of chefs and mycophiles provinding them Chanterelles, Black Trumpets, Morels, Matsutakes, and prized Candy Caps with their magnificent maple-syrupy notes.
“People still think of mushroom-picking as taking out a little basket and strolling through the forest. Well they’ve never put a 70 pound pack of mushrooms on their back on a 70 degree slope with trees and brush and slippery footing and tried to hike three miles out. Its not an easy thing to do.”