Friday, October 9, 2009

The Riddle of the Sphinx

I finally got to meet the famous and somewhat elusive Boston mushroomer Ben Maleson the other night. Ben is the guy who foragers for the edible mushrooms that you get in Boston restaurants. He taught a class the other night on boletes and polypores, but it's closer to the truth to say he stood behind a table of mushrooms and entertained the crowd with wacky half tales interrupted by himself, occasionally interspersed with a thing or two about the boletes and polypores. The edibility of the mushrooms he touched on seemed to be beyond him, and every time someone would ask: "Is that one edible" he would invariably say "You can eat any mushroom once".

I tried hard to curry favor with the mushroom man, but I need to keep this brief right now, show time with Hermann Hudde at the Gallery in 25 minutes. So I will just say that the best bit I got from him was that there was a nice chicken up high in a tree near the Sphinx. The Sphinx? Yeah, the Sphinx in Cambridge, everyone knows where that is. I figured if I found it and got that high mushroom, he might give me credibility. So I googled a little and found it. The Sphinx is in the Mt Auburn cemetery and is a civil war monument. I got there the other day, and sure enough, a beautiful chicken right up in an oak tree where a large branch had been cut off. Way too high to get right then, I will need to go back with a rope or something,

But the trip was not for naught. The best score was a haul of Chinese Chestnuts, which are just like the real thing after you get by their sea urchin-like hull. Really, the day after God made the sea Urchin, he made the Chinese Chestnut, it is uncannily similar. Here they are in the fading light of the day.

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