All along the riverbank and meadow margins and in moist places in our woodlands, fiddleheads are rising. They uncurl from their question mark coils, transformed from vernal expectancy to full fronded glory in the space of a few warm days. Before they shake loose their slumber, still tightly wound at their core and close to the earth, these are some of the best spring greens available to the forager. Taking two fiddleheads only from the base of an Ostrich Fern ( Matteuccia struthiopteris ) and moving on to the next provides a bounty otherwise costing $6 to the pound for the few weeks they are available at market and leaves the fern enough foliage to thrive until next year. I like them steamed as one might prepare asparagus and tossed in a cold pasta salad with tomatoes and shrimp, or if you are really trying to eat seasonally and locally, as a warm side to a feast of spring lamb or pureed and combined with fresh morels in a creamy soup.
And that is an inspired pairing, for the season of morels is also upon us, that most exquisite myconid, so easy even for the novice to identify. Looks like the crenelations of a cone-headed brain, hollow and without gills, and found in Spring; it can be little else but a morel.
But I've never seen them dance.
They love apple orchards, the stumps of old elms, recently burned over areas in dappled sun and shade. Those who collect morels in these parts guard their sources well. You might be able to share in the bounty, but not in its location. So I won't fill you in on my whereabouts this week, and next, but given the rains today I have high hopes of at least a handful of these most excellent fungi to saute with my fiddleheads, slice into omelets, and flavor whatever I happen to feel like grilling. Maybe shad.