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Posts Tagged ‘hongos’

Campeones de Champiñones

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We are the Champions!  (of mushrooms)

Cuajimoloyas is a small village nestled in the mountains 3200 meters (10,500 feet)  above sea level, and 1645 meters (5400 feet) above the city of Oaxaca  P7140782 and the valley that surrounds it.  As a member of the Pueblos Mancomunados, the people of Cuajimoloyas are part of a project that combines sustainable farming and forestry, community-based enterprises, and ecological tourism to promote regional autonomy, cultural survival, and decent livelihoods for their citizens.

It is also an area of rich bio-diversity, including wild mushrooms.

Every July for the past 17 years, Cuajimoloyas has hosted a mushroom festival, the

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Feria de Hongos which includes lectures, workshops, great food, and a mushroom hunt.  Judy and I were participants in this year’s mushroom hunt, along with some students and faculty from the University of Washington studying food sovereignty, friends from Oaxaca, and a couple of other gringos we met along the way. 

Along with several other teams we set off mid-morning from the town center and headed uphill to the forest.

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Our team leader was Eustorgio, a community leader whom we had met on a visit to Cuajimoloyas 7 years ago.  Equipped with a basket and a Swiss Army knife, our team entered the forest and began our hunt.

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Each time we spotted a mushroom, Eustorgio would examine it to see if it was one we had already collected.  If not, he’d tap it on its head to release theP7150821 spores, slice it off with the knife, and drop it in the basket.  Along the way we joked about winning the contest by bringing back the collection with the largest number of distinct mushroom species.  

We found big mushrooms, tiny mushrooms, clusters of mushrooms, red mushrooms, gelatinous mushrooms, and translucent mushrooms.  Eustorgio would tell us if each one was edible or toxic.

As our basket filled, his ability to remember whether we already had a sample of each one we found amazed me.

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Here are some of my favorites.

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The forest was beautiful, with lots to appreciate in addition to the mushrooms and the members of our team.  But by around 1:30 PM, we started to worry about getting back in time for the judging deadline.

It being the rainy season, it was no surprise that a drizzle started as we hustled on a muddy trail to the final meeting place at the Comedor de Truchas.  There, we laid out our mushrooms on a blanket20170715_144732

and went off to stand in line in the rain to join a feast of tlayudas and mushroom tamales.

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We were all surprised, or at least I was, when Eustorgio told us our team had won, at least unofficially, with 137 distinct mushrooms.  But sure enough, the next day, we were the big winners!

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The competition was fun, the walk was great, but we were also reminded by speakers at the festival that mushrooms have great significance from cultural, dietary, economic, ecological, and health perspectives.  The annual Cuajimoloyas Mushroom Festival is a great way to celebrate and highlight their importance. 

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