Italians are devoted to fungi in ways incomprehensible to most Americans.  At this time of year there is a great bounty to be seen in the markets. There are many different kinds, some available for only a short season, but Italians wait for those seasons, some having everything ready just in case they find a particularly wonderful type available.

I particularly enjoy the variety of them, but one thing can be counted upon: simplicity.

Italians put the wonderful fungi in all sorts of pasta dishes, risottos, and also with special meats.  The common thread is that they are little changed from their original state when they arrive at the table.  Overcooking them is considered shameful.  Drowning them in spices is unheard of. In most cases the mushrooms are presented with pasta or rice so that you get the full experience of their subtle flavor.

A wise man once said to me: “If someone offers you an unfamiliar mushroom this time of year, accept.”

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