Funghi Porcini

November 11, 2011 / Food & Wine
Piancastagnaio, Tuscany
The scene repeats itself over and over throughout Italy in autumn after it has rained. You’re driving along some country road and either at an intersection or a slargo (pull-over area), sure enough, there she’ll be. Different place, different face each time, but always the same genuine smile, same car with the boot open displaying the same couple of wooden crates propped up, overflowing with just recently hand-picked wild Boletus edulis… aka porcini.

This time it was coming down the Amiata, near Piancastagnaio.

After a sincere “buongiorno” exchange, I studied her catch.

“Hmm.. ehhh, non lo so. Non mi sembrano molto freschi…” (Hmm, not so sure, they don’t seem all that fresh to me…) I said it with the right intonation and smirk and she immediately understood I was kidding around. Without missing a beat she played along, confirming my molto simpatica assessment of her.

“Ehhh gia’.. questi li ho comprati dieci giorni fa’ al supermercato…!” (Yup, you’re right. I bought these ten days ago at the supermarket.) We both erupted in a fit of laughter.

Later that evening you’re home, using a soft brush or damp dishtowel to wipe the dirt off them (no washing w water!!), while the pasta boils (fresh tagliatelle or pappardelle are best) and a cut up garlic clove simmers in olive oil. You cut the porcini into chunks (“perche’ se devono senti’ sotto li denti“, “because ya gotta feel ’em under your teeth”) and thrown them into the pan, flipping them about occasionally (medium flame, you don’t want their juices to evaporate by cooking them slowly). You add some parsley and a pinch of salt, and when it’s all ready, you drain the pasta, adding it to the pan with the mushrooms for a minute, mixing. Serve, parmiggiano a piacere (if you like).

More or less same script every time… may it play forever.


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

22 Responses to “Funghi Porcini”

  1. Linda Boccia

    Dear GB:

    We did not have that many fresh porcini in Lucca this year, but your pictures and description make me hungry right now! Apparently there were more mushrooms here, now, in the San Francisco Bay area than in Italy. I did buy them, but only once at the farmers market in Lucca. but what a risotto they made!!!

  2. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Confession: I don’t eat mushrooms! (heresy) But your photos would almost persuade me… Lovely note GB

  3. Jim and Alice

    G.B. – What a post! It’s 10:00 am EST and already our mouths are watering remembering the porcini we so enjoyed in Roma at Ristorante Mariani(returned the very next day to have them again) and in a tiny little hamlet in Abruzzo called Altino – prepared in both places EXACTLY as you picture and describe – with simple perfection. It will be “funghi porcini con pasta” for us tonight. Don’t know what pangs more – our stomachs or our hearts…..Ciao, ciao!

  4. Paula (Giangreco) Cullison

    WOW! A few years ago I wrote an article which noted that the Italians live by the ‘F’ factor…. family, friends, food, faith, festas, fashion, films, and fine art …. now I can add funghi to the list.

  5. Perhaps a post like this can come with a warning:

    This post contains mouthwatering photos and hunger inducing text. Proceed with caution. It is recommended that you view this post only after you have had a hearty meal and have no room for more. Susceptible readers may want to forego this post as it will inspire you to run to the airport and depart on the first flight to Italy, leaving all family and friends behind.

  6. Maria Galeota

    Porcini….all funghi….with a little garlic, oil, and pasta….Manna of the gods!!!

  7. I just returned from Abruzzo. One day while we were heading down a street in Pescara, I noticed a truck parked off to one side. There was a sign advertising” Porcini Freshi” I screamed for my husband to “Stop the Car!” My friend Suzi, who was along on this trip ran after me, camera in hand. We bought 20 euros worth. They in turn were used in fritattas, pasta and eaten on toast after being thickly sliced, and then sauteed with onions and garlic in wonderful olive oil, I can taste it now…..sigh…

  8. Wonderful photos! I’m inspired to try the recipe. Will have to stop by the local grocer here in Seattle to see what funghi are currently available. Thanks for the article.

  9. the first time i saw a porcini, on a plate at the next table, i thought it was a steak. intrigued i ordered it, and my taste buds sang.

  10. Gian Banchero

    Simply cooked with butter, olive oil, a hint of garlic and salt then placed over polenta!!! Si’, si’, si’!!!!!!!!

  11. reminds me of when I was a boy in Pennsylvania,going with my Italian grandfather (he was from Cori)after the rain to his favorite spots in the woods to pick mushrooms from tree stumps. The locations were top secret, he’d worry about someone finding his spot and zig zag to our destination

  12. fran politi

    Your foto of the glistening, moist,voluptuous, cooked funghi makes me want to roll around in them!! Nice story!!

  13. Only find the porcinini mushrooms primarily in the early summer here in Washington State. They are so good. My prefernce is chantrelle mushrooms and risotto in the fall. Give these a try if you find at store or in the wild. Buon Mangia

  14. Okay, you did it….. Our mouths are watering !!!! Oh managia that we are here and not THERE. Viva Italia.


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