• Shortage frustrates mushroom lovers, sellers


    SEATTLE - Some of the Northwest's most sought-after mushrooms have failed to appear this year, frustrating mushroom lovers and sellers.

    At Seattle-based Pagliacci Pizza, you can have a pepperoni pizza or a tomato-and-cheese pizza, but you can't have one of their most popular pizzas of the season: the wild mushroom pizza.

    "This has been unbelievably difficult for us on the mushroom pizza, specifically," said Matt Galvin, owner of Pagliacci Pizza. "People wait all year long to get that pizza."

    Galvin is unable to get the five varieties of wild mushrooms his customers clamor for, including porcini and matsutaki mushrooms.

    "This year has been the worst I've seen in the 30-some years I've been hunting," said Marian Maxwell, president of the Puget Sound Mycological Society.

    With 1,600 members devoted to the study, collection and cooking of wild mushrooms, the Puget Sound Mycological Society is one of the largest in the nation.

    Maxwell blamed the mushroom shortage on a long, dry summer and early fall.

    "We didn't get the critical rains at the times we needed for mushroom development, which would have been the end of August," Maxwell said. "Consequently, things did not develop the way they should have."

    The lack of wild mushrooms has hurt exports to other states and nations, especially Japan -- and of course, restaurant owners like Galvin.

    "A lot of restaurants are complaining that they can't produce the dishes that they would like to produce for their wild mushroom feasts," Galvin said.

    Wild mushroom lovers will simply have to be patient: the next growing season isn't until spring.

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