Death Wish Pasta
Trompettes de la mort they’re called, death trumpet mushrooms. At least , on the very few occasions I’ve seen any in the US they were plainly labeled, in French, as trompettes de la mort. It sounds chic, to the non-Francophone ear, palatable, alluring.
“What’s for dinner, honey?” “French autumn mushrooms with pasta.” “Oh, good. I was afraid you were going to try to poison me with death trumpets.”
But when I saw them in the market here they were labeled simply as “trompettes.” “Are those trompettes de la mort?” I asked the mushroom lady. She cast a quick look around the stand, making sure I was the only one that heard. “Yes,” she murmered, “but I just call them trompettes because, well, you know.”
I knew. But what I didn’t really know was how to cook them, or rather, how to clean them before cooking. I’ve been thoroughly schooled in the “never wash a mushroom” way of life, and these clearly needed some sort of cleaning, growing, as they do, under piles of dead leaves. The mushroom lady gave me the secret, and now I’m giving it to you.
I cooked them in the simplest manner possible, and ate every one myself. Shel is just beginning to eat mushrooms, after a long life of abstinence, and the death trumpet is not a beginner’s mushroom. It has a sober hint of bitterness, a seductive little heart of darkness that keeps you wanting just one more bite, while offering the sweet certainty that you’ll live to cook another day.
As you can see, they’re not pretty when cooked, and actually they look rather evil, so don’t serve them to anyone who is easily frightened by food. In fact, I would recommend that you don’t share them at all, but then your friends might have to kill you in order to get some.
Pasta with Trompettes de la Mort
Take as many trompettes as you can lay your hands on and put them in a colander. Rinse them under running water, shaking the colander to dislodge any bits of forest floor that might be clinging to them. Let drain briefly. Place the wet mushrooms in a dry nonstick pan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are completely dry. Now add some sort of fat. I used goose fat, and suggest that you do too if possible. If you can’t get goose fat then duck fat would also be good, and olive oil or butter would each lend their special qualities in a pinch. When the fat and the mushrooms are hot, toss in a handful of chopped parsley and some chopped garlic. Sizzle together until it’s all toasty and tantalizing, then toss with pasta. Eat it and live.