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A revealing mushroom
Those who love to go in search of mushrooms know how any small clue can be useful to find these tasty seasonal fruits in the undergrowth, which are often hidden mimetically between leaves and dry branches. Therefore, it is not an understatement for a mushroom to be remembered and appreciated not so much, and not only, for its particular characteristics, but also and above all because it acts as an alarm bell for the presence of another fungus, very delicious and sought after, or the porcini. Clitopilus prunulus is a fungus that has the advantage of being born at the end of summer, just before the porcini mushrooms, and near the latter. Therefore, with a dialectal term, this mushroom is called e'spiun de la brisa, the porcine spy, precisely because its presence denounces, in the immediate vicinity, that of Boletus edulis, or porcino.
The characteristics of the spy mushroom
Even if the mushroom seekers know the spy fungus above all for this revealing aspect of the prized porcino, this does not mean that it is a very appreciable mushroom in turn on the table. However, it must be very careful in its identification, always relying on very experienced people and on the health of the ASL. In fact, clitopilus can easily be confused with other poisonous species: in particular, it is very similar to some toxic clitocybe, and to entoloma lividum, which is highly harmful to health. The characteristics of the spy mushroom are a convex cap, which tends to flatten as it ages; a tall and straight stem, which reaches up to three centimeters in height, and white meats. Its smell is what makes it more recognizable, because it tastes of flour and raw bread.
Where is the spy mushroom
The botanical name of the spy mushroom derives from the union of two ancient Greek terms: clitos, which means slope, and pilus, which means hat. Thus, it is a mushroom that has an inclined cap. The term prunulus instead indicates the fact that it looks a bit like a small plum, due to the fact that its flesh is very friable. The places where it grows, as we said, are the same as those of boletus edulis, that is to say hardwood and broad-leaved woods. It is very commonly found in beech forests, in clearings and above all along the slopes, where water can flow freely, because it loves draining soils. It is a gregarious mushroom that grows in small groups; in harvesting, care must be taken to remove it from the ground gently, because its meat tends to flake off.
Spy: How to cook the spy mushroom
Who knows how to recognize the spy mushroom, knows how to appreciate its use in the kitchen. In fact it has a very pleasant taste, in nothing inferior to the much celebrated porcino. Furthermore, it can be used in multiple ways. The sponge mushroom is good eaten raw, finely sliced and seasoned with oil and salt; the seasoning is always necessary because it serves to make sure that its meats release their aroma, otherwise they are a little insipid. The spy is excellent cooked in all the ways with which the porcino is also cooked: but, given the particular tenderness of its meats, it is not recommended to do it roasted or grilled, and also the breading is not a very indicated procedure. The ideal is lightly stir-fried with butter and a bit of parsley; or prepared in sauce to flavor linguine and tagliatelle.