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Posts Tagged ‘hongos’

Sunday, I headed up into the clouds for the 19th Feria Regional de Hongos Silvestres (Regional Wild Mushroom Fair) in San Antonio Cuajimoloyas. Friends had hired a van and driver to take us on the steep winding climb into the Sierra Norte. An hour and a half after we left the city, we arrived at our destination, 10,433 feet above sea level. Cuajimoloyas has an ethereal feel and seems like a world apart from the valley below.
       
Baskets of fresh mushrooms with shiny orange caps and mushrooms resembling coral, trumpets, cauliflower, and flower petals beckoned. And the aroma of grilled mushrooms, mushroom tamales, mushroom empanadas, and chile relleno stuffed with mushrooms stimulated the appetite.
There were dried mushrooms in bulk and in little cellophane baggies for purchase.
Mushrooms aren’t the only produce the region is known for — delicious apples and new potatoes are grown in these chilly mountains.
And, there there were local crafts for sale and a couple of kinds of mezcal to taste (and buy).
I came home with apples, potatoes, a bottle of the lovely A Medios Chiles mezcal made from the wild Jabalí agave, and 30 grams of dried mushrooms. While the mushrooms weren’t of the “magic” variety, the experience certainly was!
“Mushrooms were the roses in the garden of that unseen world, because the real mushroom plant was underground. The parts you could see – what most people called a mushroom – was just a brief apparition. A cloud flower.” ― Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood

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“But one day we shall be rich, and the next poor. One day we shall dine in a palace and the next we’ll sit in a forest and toast mushrooms on a hatpin….” — Katherine Mansfield, The Aloe.

Last Sunday, via a narrow winding road, we drove up into the Sierra Norte for the 13th Regional Wild Mushroom Fair (Feria Regional de Hongos Silvestres) in San Antonio Cuajimoloyas.  The village is part of the Pueblos Mancomunados, a union of seven villages formed to protect the forest, preserve local traditions, and promote ecotourism, in order to provide employment. Thirty-seven miles northeast of Oaxaca city, 10,433 feet above sea level, and often in the clouds, Cuajimoloyas has an ethereal feel and seems a world apart from the valley below.

“I am… a mushroom on whom the dew of heaven drops now and then” — John Ford, The Broken Heart (1633).

Entering the plaza in front of the portales of the municipal building, we were surrounded by the 20 species of wild mushrooms endemic to the region.  There were mushrooms with shiny orange caps; mushrooms resembling coral, trumpets, a head of cauliflower, flower petals; baskets of freshly dug mushrooms, baggies of dried mushrooms, a bowl of spores; mushrooms sauteed, grilled on hot coals, stuffed in empanadas and tamales, and made into candy.

“Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom.” — Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus.

And there were the people of Cuajimoloyas…  I quickly found the enchanting abuela from last year, again selling Atole Rojo and it hit the spot!  Another abuela was selling fragrant fresh herbs, most I’d never heard of.  I forgot about a sprig she gave me and it was a pleasant surprise when I returned home and emptied my pockets.

I’m already looking forward to next year…

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Sunday, we headed up into the clouds of Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte to San Antonio Cuajimoloyas.  At 10,433 feet above sea level and nestled in a forest of pine and oak trees, the setting has an ethereal feel and seems a world apart from the valley below — almost like being in an alpine village in Switzerland.

Wood house with tin roof

Getting up there wasn’t easy, thanks to the bumpy and winding dirt road.  However, reaching our destination, the Feria Regional de Hongos Silvestres (fair of wild mushrooms) was well worth it!

Banner above municipal building, against a cloudy sky, announcing, "Bienvenidos,12va. feria regional de Hongos Silvestres"

Once there, baskets, buckets, and boxes filled with freshly gathered mushrooms greeted us.

Blue plastic bucket of trumpet mushrooms

Close-up of mushrooms

Mushrooms in a box

Orange capped mushrooms in a green container

Not only was there a bounty of raw mushrooms, the aroma of sautéed mushrooms, mushroom tamales, and mushroom empanadas stimulated our appetites and we tried them all, and washed it down with an atole rojo made by this beguiling gal.

Elderly woman mixing atole rojo.

And no, these were not “magic mushrooms” but the experience was, indeed, magical.

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