The Wild Wild Mushrooms of the New Amsterdam Market

Bear's head mushrooms look more like polar bears than brown or black bears.

With all the rain and general dampness, It's been the best year in memory for hunting wild mushrooms upstate and in the fungus-friendly areas of New England. Not only are the varieties more profuse, but the specimens are bigger -- even reaching humongous in some cases.

The mushroom stall will be open till 4 p.m. today, and will be open two further Sundays at the New Amsterdam Market in the South Street Seaport.

Today for the first time, the New Amsterdam Market is mounting a wild-mushroom booth staffed by the Wild Food Gatherers Guild of Fairlee, Vermont. For the home cook or chef accustomed to rummaging through boxes of button, oyster, porcini, and shiitake mushrooms -- with the occasional foraged chanterelle thrown in, but only if the season's right -- the advent of this booth has proved an amazing event. Perhaps never in the culinary history of the city have so many varieties been available, and having them all in one concentrated space is unprecedented.

According to the chalkboard, the varieties available include scented corals, lobsters, sea shrimp, oysters, honeys, bear's head, hedgehogs (sweet tooth), chicken of the woods, hen of the woods (maitake), pig's ears, sheep, white matsutake, chanterelles (yellow foot), and blue alb. As you see, whoever did the naming long ago must have thought of mushrooms as a substitute for fish, poultry, and meat.

Pig's ear 'shrooms do indeed look like porcine parts.

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Mushroom Jack
Mushroom Jack

Never heard them called that before, but I couldn't agree more, with the name.  They are superb Battered & deep fried, then dipped in cocktail sauce.


"Snow Shrimp" (LOL) Nice "dodge"— the common name is actually "Aborted Entolomas"; the name itself would probably turn off the uninitiated.   

Wildman Steve Brill
Wildman Steve Brill

We're finding tons of mushrooms on my foraging tours too—aborted entoloma and reishi in Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY today, slippery jacks yesterday at The White Memorial Institute in Litchfield, CT, hen-of-the-woods and honey mushrooms last Sun. in Central Park, and oyster mushrooms the day before in Prospect Park. Anyone who wants to learn more about foraging should check out


That explains why "snow shrimp" in reference to mushrooms shows so few hits on Google. Thanks for the info, Jibco, that is one of history's greatest rebrandings.

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