Dried cèpes, and how I learned to like mushrooms
I’ve recently gotten acquainted with the joy and utility of dried mushrooms, cèpes in particular. It’s funny because I hated mushrooms as a child. It wasn’t necessarily the flavor, but I could never get past the texture enough to actually consider the flavor. Mushroom flesh reminded me too much of human flesh, which I also don’t eat. Mushrooms were one of my first serious food phobias.
When I lived with Uncle Ted, we cooked with portabello mushroom caps relatively often. I wasn’t crazy about it, but I wasn’t bratty enough to complain, and I knew it was a step in my journey of learning to like mushrooms. Portabellos are particulary difficult for non-mushroom lovers because their flavor is so intense and musty.
Then I moved downtown and began to order shiitake mushrooms from FreshDirect because they were a good price and because FreshDirect told me that they could be cooked into oblivion. I soon began to enjoy them sincerely, even without a long cooking time, and they became a staple.
Last summer, my friend Chuck and I made an excellent pasta involving dried cèpes and fresh portobello. The flavor from the dried mushrooms is hardcore mushroom. It would have been enough to make me vomit a few years ago, in fact even thinking of it now puts me a little on edge, but I couldn’t get enough of it, and now I’ve started cooking with these little fungi all the time. Last night I reheated my panko-crusted macaroni and cheese (picture forthcoming, mom) in a skillet to which I added green peas and reconstituted dried cèpes and their broth. It added a wonderfully woodsy flavor to the macaroni. It would appear that my fear of mushrooms is no more.
FreshDirect has a really good deal on cèpes. Maybe you know of someplace cheaper in the city, but this is much better than the price at Whole Foods.