In Italian, Porcini means little pig or piglet.
There are different stories to explain how these mushrooms got that name but got it they have and it has stuck.
People tend to like Porcini mushrooms immediately on sight because of their appearance. They are just like the mushrooms we all drew as children in our colouring books and you almost expect to see fairies dancing underneath when you see them growing in the wild.
However, these mushrooms aren’t really to look at but to eat and they are absolutely delicious. Some Italians will gladly tell you these are the best mushrooms in the world and when you taste their nutty flavour, it’s not hard to see why.
Here are a few tips to look for when you are thinking about buying them fresh as opposed to dried.
Avoid picking mushrooms that have very dark caps or damp spots. Brown spotting is also a bad sign. They’re not going to be unpleasant but these symptoms indicate they are old and perhaps not capable of delivering the very best flavour. Keep an eye out also for holes in the stem. There are certain minor worms that also love porcini mushrooms and they are quite happy making their home in them.
Once again, this is entirely unhazardous (even if you eat the worms) but something you may prefer to avoid. Look at the underside of the cap closely. Once again, if it has dark sports or appears to be going brown, the mushroom is probably past its best.
Porcini mushrooms are typically expensive whether in fresh or dried form. They can be cooked in any number of different ways and are particularly favoured by Italians as a flavour additive to various pasta dishes.
If you give them a try, you might not only be surprised but you may find yourself hooked on a real delicacy. Porcini mushrooms perhaps aren’t quite as commonplace in Australia as some other varieties but don’t been inhibited by that. Give them a try and see what you think!