Hugh Erle Smith

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Yuba City, January 28, 2005

I got it! 

As you may remember, in a couple of my letters to you, I talked about a Hericium erinaceous hanging in an Oak tree 30 feet up in Yuba City that gets bigger and bigger every year. 

Well, it's only 20 feet up. 

And today, my employee and I took an 8 foot ladder and a 10 foot pruning saw to that location, and got it! (My employee has no job description). 

This Old Man's Beard is as fresh as fresh can be, and consists of four big lobes out of one stalk. The whole thing weighs 9.00 pounds (we took it over to the local Fed Ex office and weighed it). 

First, we thought up the story that if anybody comes and tries to stop us, we'll tell them we are removing this fungus from this grand Oak tree to save it from certain death. After all, it IS the only oak tree around of this caliber and it IS the centerpiece at the entrance to a really nice neighborhood. 

If they lose this tree, they got nothin'! 

(Fools, fools, all of them fools, society, bah!) 

So, I took some final pictures of it hanging, then of my employee up on the ladder with the saw, and then the saw about to cut. 

I then stood on the ground underneath while he began to cut. 

He sawdit, I cawdit! It is so big, I couldn't hope to catch it though. 

So I broke the Old Man's fall and slowed him way down on his descent. 

It took two cuts to bring him down, and we ended up with three pieces. 

Three nice pieces were given to people who appreciate such things, and now I still have so much of it that I guess it's time to dry it. 

Here's what the guy I went hunting with last weekend had to say about hericium:

I fried some of that Hericium. I found the flavor to be real mild, but it was a bit chewy. Especially the spikes. So I thought about it a bit and marinated another one in teryaki. I boiled this one. It took the flavor really well without destroying the flavor of the Hericium. It was much more tender also. I think over the BBQ would be good, but probably tougher. I have a little more to play with, so I will find something out about it. 

And his next writing: 

So I fried, marinated, boiled, baked and simmered that Hericium, and it all was just eggplant to me. The only thing I didn't do was grill it. Not real sure what was choice about it, unless you are a really huge fan of eggplant. I gave a bit marinated in teriyaki (Kikomon) to my boss who said he would try grilling tonight. Maybe he had better luck. Did you have any luck drying it? I am sure there is something to be done with it. Maybe as a center piece at Thanksgiving! All I know is it sure as hell didn't taste like any crab I have ever had I can hardly wait til round two! Hericium revisited.

So now I'm drying the rest. My wife just tried frying some of it in Olive Oil because some of the people I gave it to said they ate it that way like crackers and they loved it! I thought it was bland, with a hint of mushroom. And I don't generally put those things in MY mouth. I'm a hunter!

Will trade for pork, or chicken, or airplane rides though. 

Tomorrow I'm going to Spenceville to see what's coming up there.

See Ya!