September 2022

Dr Michael Hathaway - What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make

contributed by Mike McCurdy, MSSF Program Committee Chair

Welcome back from our summer break!
  • Meeting date and time: 7 pm PDT, Tuesday September 20, 2022
  • Join the Zoom Meeting
    • Meeting ID: 891 8438 9640
    • Passcode: 608192

Dr Michael Hathaway
In this talk, Dr. Michael Hathaway will provide an introduction to his latest book, What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make, which was just published by Princeton University Press. For this fungi-versed and fungi-loving audience of the San Francisco Mycological Society, he will explore how we might think of mushrooms as lively beings.

While much of the scientific literature describes their lives in mechanistic ways, Michael suggests that fungi are actively encountering and engaging with the world.

Tricholoma murrillianumInfluenced by important thinkers such as the Potawatomi scientist, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Michael shows how we better understand fungi as perceiving and interpreting beings that are shaping the world through their everyday actions. Such a vision, he contends, might help us more beyond our tendencies towards seeing our fellow kin as resources, as utilitarian objects for the plate or for profit and to dethrone the idea of humans as fundamentally and qualitatively different from all other living beings.

Dr. Michael J. Hathaway is a Professor of Anthropology at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, Canada, where he is also an Associate Member of the School for International Studies, and the Director of SFU's David Lam Centre for Asian Studies.

A 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, Dr. Hathaway has been working with Indigenous peoples in Southwest China and Japan for over a quarter century, exploring how they engage global environmental efforts and globalized markets.


Matsutake photo credit: Mike Wood, Mykoweb

Greetings Mycological Society of San Francisco Members

Natalie Wren

I am excited to be your new president for 2022-23. My fellow fungal enthusiast Sarah Ruhs serves as vice president this year and we are both very excited to meet you!

I have been volunteering with MSSF at the Fungus Fair and at Mendo camp for several years and have really come to appreciate the work MSSF does to  educate the community about fungi. Sarah has been active with the culinary group and with the MSSF council and shares my obsession with foraging and cooking and eating the bounty. Together we hope to inspire others to contribute and help keep our Society active and relevant.
Maybe you'd like to cultivate at home? Or perhaps explore the benefits of nutritional and medicinal mushrooms? Next level gardening that includes  growing your food with mycorrhizal help from our fungal partners? Or maybe it's all about the science for you? Perhaps that involves dna sequencing and taxonomy or it might mean finding ways to generate energy or mitigate environmental disasters? What about making art about or with mushrooms? We, as the Mycological Society of San Francisco want to support the diverse interests of our members and continue our mission of education about fungi. In my opinion, one of the best ways to do this is to encourage participation and  volunteerism. Sharing what we know with others helps to connect us all in unexpected ways. Maybe YOU can help us by sharing what you know and love about fungi?

We would also like to welcome the new members on council this year along with welcoming back councilors-at-large who are returning to council:

  • Raysheina de Leon
  • James McConchie
  • Maria Pham
  • Mickey Zeif

September 12: The Culinary Group is back from their summer hiatus with a potluck taking place on September 12. Current Culinary Group members have been sent an invitation. For more information about Culinary events, contact Paul Lufkin or Maria Pham at

The culinary group continues to follow pandemic precautions and are requiring proof of full vaccination for in-person gatherings. If you new to MSSF and haven't been to a Culinary Dinner, here is an introduction to the group.

September 20: The Society is still practicing caution due to the continuing pandemic and have not yet decided when to resume in-person monthly meetings. We will resume general meetings via Zoom this month.

McCloud Foray Report

Curt Haney

After many years of trying to get this foray organized, I was finally successful. It was a 10-day long foray scheduled from 22 May through Memorial Day.

I arrived at the Trout Creek campground on the back side of Mt Shasta on Sunday 22 May and was able to procure three campsites close to the creek. This big campground is free on a first come first served basis and has rock fire rings and two bathrooms. It is in a beautiful setting with lots of trees, the creek, meadows, and a view of the mountains.

The year before there was a huge forest fire that burned right up to the edge of the campground. Fires usually means morels in the spring, and we were not disappointed.

MSSF members started arriving soon after I got there and continued to arrive all week long. Some stayed for just a couple of days and some stayed the entire time. There were lots of burned areas near the campground and you could walk to most of them, plus some members drove to locations further away.

Everyone found morels, some more than others, plus some members found spring kings. We cooked up morels over the big communal fire and had some great pot luck dinners. Oh, and firewood was free and plentiful.


The weather was sunny and warm, most of the time, except for one day of cold rain at the end of the week, just before Memorial Day.

Most of us attended the McCloud mushroom and wine festival on either Saturday or Sunday during Memorial Day weekend and enjoyed the music, wine, and the many vendors.

Everyone packed up their gear and morels and departed after the holiday weekend with big smiles on their faces. Success!
NOTE: If the weather cooperates and the snow melts on time, I plan to repeat this foray next year. I’m hoping to see some new faces next time.

Revitalizing management of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest

contributed by Stephanie Wright

Jackson Demonstation State Forest
Source: Cal Fire Jackson Demonstration State Forest

Forest Statistics:
Established: 1949
Area: 48,652 acres
Elevation: 80 - 2,200 ft
Precipitation: 39 inches per year along coast, 70 inches per year inland 
Temperature: Max: 100 F - Min: 25 F

The Mycological Society of San Francisco has often held a November Foray - a weekend at Mendocino Woodlands Camp. The camp is adjacent to the Jackson Demonstration Forest where campers explore and find a plethora of fungi.
August 18, 2022, Cal Fire Released an updated forest management plan (PDF).
Here is the summary:

Reflecting nearly a century of stewardship, the Jackson Demonstration State Forest is a special place cherished by many.
Just as our climate and ecological trends are changing, so must our management of this critical natural resource. Based on feedback from a wide array of community members, scientists, environmental groups, and local Tribal leaders, the State has outlined a new blueprint for managing the Jackson Demonstration Forest (JDSF) that balances the requirements of state law with current state climate goals, opportunities for Tribal co- management, and restoration economies.

The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) and CAL FIRE are committed to a new forward-looking vision for managing the JDSF, which is outlined below. To accomplish this, the State has dedicated resources to improve management activities, brought in new voices to make the Jackson Advisory Group more representative, and has begun a process for updating the Jackson Management Plan four years early. The State is committed to seeing the updated management vision for the forest include a renewed focus on climate science, restoration ecology, and a new model for Tribal co- management.

MSSF members have access to the File Archive. There are a number of documents related to the Jackson Forest (maps, road closure information, etc) available there.

Culinary Corner

Hanna Docampo Pham

  Even with the lack of rain during the summer months, if you know where to look you will still be able to find mushrooms in the forest.  The heavy fog along the coast makes the forest floor come alive with the bright colors of chanterelle and lobster mushrooms.

Image by Jenna Hinshaw
The lobster mushroom is to the left and to the right is a Russula!
    Lobster mushrooms (Hypomyces lactifluorum) are known for being in flamboyant shades of oranges and reds like the shell of a cooked lobster.  Their color actually comes from a parasite that infects Russulas (Russula brevipes): a pale, gilled mushroom with a bitter flavor.  The result is the lobster, a mushroom that has a meaty and crisp texture!  Some people claim that the mushroom has a fishy flavor reminiscent of lobster, yet notable mushroom connoisseurs dispute this opinion.  When dehydrating lobster mushrooms their texture becomes chewy, so enjoy the taste of fresh lobster in the season.  They are found commonly in old growth forests near Douglas firs, tan oaks, and pines during late summer to early fall, before the big rains hit California.  Anywhere you see Russulas in the winter, you might find lobsters in the summer.
Images by Jenna Hinshaw
Lobster mushrooms found in Humboldt County in California

    Another perk of the summer months: summer chanterelles.  The rainbow chanterelles (Cantharellus roseocanus), white chanterelles (Cantharellus subalbidus), and Pacific Golden chanterelles (Cantharellus formosus) found during the summer grow slowly and with very little water, giving them a more refined flavor than other chanterelles.  Summer chanterelles have a dense texture, and therefore it’s recommended to cook them with some water instead of dry sauteing them.  You’ll find summer chanterelles off old logging roads and ravines with firs and tan oak, and rainbow chanterelles associate specifically with bishop pines.

Image by Jenna Hinshaw
Small, fresh summer chanterelles are perfect for cooking whole or halved
            This month’s recipe uses Fettuccine, a type of pasta that's name means “small ribbons” in Italian, paired with sauteed lobster mushrooms in cream sauce to create a simple but elegant dish.

Image by Jenna Hinshaw
Fettuccine with Lobster Mushroom Cream Sauce
Recipe from Kirsten Lindquist, adapted by Hanna Docampo Pham
Serves 2-3 people
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 lb lobster mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white wine, preferably marsala wine
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2/3 lb fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Optional: parmesan or asiago cheese
Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Swirl the olive oil to coat the pan, then add the shallot.  Cook the shallot for a minute to soften it.
Add the lobster mushroom to the pan, and cook them until they have released all their water. Then add in the wine, which will help release any of the caramelized mushrooms that may be sticking to the pan.  Next add the cream and stir the sauce well.  Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer.
While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta and drain it.  When the pasta is done, add in the mushroom sauce to the pasta.  Toss the pasta to coat it in the sauce.  Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with grated parmesan or asiago cheese.

The MSSF Culinary Group (an all-volunteer committee of MSSF, sharing and advancing the Society's educational mission) announces its first outing of the new mushroom season -- an alfresco (outdoor) potluck at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, on Monday, September 12 at 6pm. Please attend, and bring with you your fungal enthusiasm, energy, and ideas for the upcoming season. 

What: MSSF Culinary Group Planning Potluck
When: Monday, September 12, 2022; 6pm - 9pm
Where: Hall of Flowers (County Fair Building) 9th Avenue & Lincoln Way (Golden Gate Park, SF)
Who: MSSF Culinary Group Members and their Guests. (Register for this event in the "members only" area of

After a short business meeting, the Group and their guests will dine and socialize over potluck. Any MSSF member whose Society dues are current is eligible to join the Culinary Group. 

Questions: Maria 415-305-3316 or Paul 415-515-1593
(MSSF Culinary Group co-Chairs)

Yeast - Part 1 of a series

Stephanie Wright

Yeast 101

Back when I was 10 years old, I read something about people baking bread in the old days so I wanted to try it. My mother handed me The Joy of Cooking, a 5# bag of all-purpose flour, a packet of yeast, and said “have at it...” I had already successfully produced cookies quite a few times, pie crusts for our holiday desserts, and had recently converted a case of enormous, ripe peaches into jam and other goodies. I had self-confidence in the kitchen.

But my first loaf of bread was useful only as a door-stop or perhaps as ship's ballast!
That is when I learned that yeast is a living organism. And the packet of yeast with which I had been provisioned was almost as old as I was…

The yeast adventure continues -->

MSSF 2022 Summer Picnic

Sarah Ruhs

Temescal LakeThe Mycological Society of San Francisco made a trip to the Berkeley Hills on August 6th to celebrate the true meaning of summer: mushroom-laden potluck with fungiphile camaraderie. The picnic was set on the banks of the beautiful Lake Temescal at the Temescal Regional Recreation Area in Oakland. We enjoyed perfect weather in the bustling park, full of families, dogs and others enjoying the open-air and even some fishing.

BBQ TrumpetsSociety members came from far and wide to enjoy amazing salads fresh from members’ gardens, eggcellent deviled eggs, barbecued king trumpets and shiitakes, and many other delectable delights. I shall not forget to mention the Presidential Peach cobbler with candy-cap biscuits, made from peaches grown on our President’s very own tree. And something I’ve never tried before, Cloud Mushroom salad, it was heavenly. Deviled EggsThere was so much fantastic food that it made me wonder if being a gifted chef wasn’t a requirement to join MSSF. I’m sure many of you have heard of having a second breakfast (at the Shire) but have any of you heard of having a fourth lunch? Some of us did that sunny summer’s day in Oakland.

As newly appointed Vice President of the Mycological Jello CakeSociety of San Francisco, I feel it is my civil duty to attend and partake in as many Societal potlucks as humanly possible. This is why I have been a member of the Culinary group since I joined MSSF many years ago. As part of our love for mushrooms, many of us enjoy cooking and eating them. We are all members of the Society because we also enjoy spending time with like-minded folks. I hope to see many of you at the next summer picnic at Paradise Park in Tiburon in 2023!


September Book of the Month

MacKenzie Hridel

The Joy of Foraging

Discover the edible riches in your backyard, local parks, woods, and even roadside! In The Joy of Foraging, Gary Lincoff shows you how to find fiddlehead ferns, rose hips, beach plums, bee balm, and more, whether you are foraging in the urban jungle or the wild, wild woods. You will also learn about fellow foragers—experts, folk healers, hobbyists, or novices like you—who collect wild things and are learning new things to do with them every day. Along with a world of edible wild plants—wherever you live, any season, any climate—you’ll find essential tips on where to look for native plants, and how to know without a doubt the difference between edibles and toxic look-a likes. There are even ideas and recipes for preparing and preserving the wild harvest year-round — all with full-color photography. (via Google Books) 

About the Author: Gary Lincoff is the author or editor of several books and articles on mushrooms, including The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. He taught courses on mushroom identification at the New York Botanical Garden. He has led mushroom study trips and forays around the world, and he is a featured “myco-visionary” in the award-winning documentary Know Your Mushrooms.
Like the sound of this book? Members can reserve it, or hundreds of other titles from around the world, through the MSSF library! Just go to the Member’s section of the website, and under the ‘Resources’ tab click on ‘Library’. Browse the titles, and to reserve a book just click on ‘Reserve’ on the far right of the screen. Our online library system is getting re-organized, so your patience is appreciated as we try to make it as easy to navigate as possible
Mycena News - September 2022