the 2020 summer brought many disappointments to my Northern Arizona home, virus, canceled trips and for the whole region the monsoon, or more accurately a nonsoon. We got almost no water in Arizona from our monsoon and the forest and my garden definitely felt the scarcity. This year there was a rebound, like a driver swerving around a deer and overcorrecting into the woods on the other side. 2021’s monsoon has been the opposite, we exceeded our last years total in one storm. It happened more than once and there’s been around 8 inches at my house already and we still have a few weeks left of the season.
These rains bring a multitude of changes to our forest, but one of the most exciting is the mushrooms, more specifically lobster mushrooms. They look like some sort of strange, bright orange deformed cheeto peaking out from beneath the duff layer. While not technically a mushroom, but instead it is another parasitic fungus that inhabits other species of mushroom turning them orange (like a boiled lobster). More interesting still is that the parasitic host almost completely alters the host mushroom, changing it so significantly that the host can generally no longer be identified. They are plentiful near my house and vey easy to identify, which is good news because I’m no serious mycologist. These delicious treats don’t really taste like a lobster but they are my personal favorite mushroom.
Sautéed in butter and garlic and mixed in with alfredo sauce on top of a plate of angel hair pasta is my preferred recipe, but they are good pretty much however you cook them. The growing season is short and doesn’t happen every year but when they are here I find it’s best not to miss out!