Bruschetta With Fresh Porcini Ragout
Yesterday, I took my usual bike-ride to the Valvassori Peroni open-air market. All September, the number of stalls selling the prized porcini mushrooms have been growing and this time almost everybody had some to sell. Many of the veg-mongers were offering two different grades of porcini, at different prices, of course. I stopped at one run by an older gentleman and a younger guy, a place where I had bought a lot of things before. After you've been to a seller a few times they begin to treat you better, chit-chat, etc. I asked the young guy if the difference between the two grades of porcinis was due to a lesser number of little worms in the more expensive one. Since I've bought is produce before, he did not yell at me.
(CAVEAT! It's been a rare experience of mine to chop a porcini and NOT have to pick out any tiny white worms! I have accepted this as a fact of life and it is a testament to their deliciousness that I willingly battle and probably eat worms every time I buy porcinis at the market.)
Rather than yelling at me, he simply lied. The veg-monger assured me that there were no worms in either his cheaper or his more expensive porcinis. Not his, he only sells good produce! Now, I love going to Milan's open-air markets and fresh porcini mushrooms are my #1 favorite thing about Italy, and as Jerry Seinfeld so well put it, "Fruit is a gamble; I know that going in." Same goes for vegetables. So I say this with the best sense of the words: Veg-mongers are liars! They cannot be trusted! The best you can hope for is that they will lie to you with smiles on their faces! Now ok, you still get better fruits and veggies at lower prices at the markets, so it is still well worth the duplicity.
So I chopped up my porcinis (I got the more expensive ones at an admittedly great price, 15 euros per kilo) and picked out all the little worms I could find. Music to pick worms out of mushrooms by: The Pogues' "Worms" from the album "If I Should Fall From Grace With God". Then I followed this Charlie Trotter recipe for Roasted Mushrooms. The result (to the left) is a sort of chopped porcini ragout. It's soft, tender texture goes really well with the solid crunch of my grilled, homemade bread. It's delicious, and you don't even notice the worms!