Mushroom expert's advice remains a timely, trusted resource

By: 
Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Photo by Linda Gallagher

Pictured is a morel mushroom, which thousands of people all over the world now forage for each spring. Much of that is thanks to Michigan morel expert Larry Lonik, who hunted the elusive fungi annually from Mexico to the Yukon, and included regular stops in both Antrim and Kalkaska counties. 

 

REGION – Before his sudden and tragic death from injuries sustained after an ATV accident in 2003, Michigan’s Larry Lonik was widely regarded as the world’s most knowledgeable morel mushroom expert.

Known to morel enthusiasts as the "Spore Boy," Lonik hunted the spring fungi annually from Mexico to the Yukon, which included regular stops to trek the forested hills of both Antrim and Kalkaska counties before his annual appearance at the Boyne City Morel Festival, penning articles, books and advice along the way.

Lonik may be gone, but the interest he created in what was once only known to a few dedicated wild food foragers has continued to grow since then, with thousands of people now venturing into the hardwood forests of northern Michigan every May in the hopes of finding a few for the pan.

Much of what enthusiasts have learned about morel mushrooms came from Lonik's very popular series of books on the subject, particularly his first, entitled "The Curious Morel," which is now in its fourth printing. The book is available for sale on Amazon, and remains as popular today as it was when the first edition was printed in 1984.

Through his descriptions, readers learned not only what morels are, exactly, but also what the delectable fungi look like, good locations to find them, when to look for them, and how to cook and preserve them.

When in his presence, those lucky enough to accompany Lonik on a morel foraging expedition learned the art of the "Morel Walk." Crouched down as he took long strides forward, the mushroom expert claimed that the walking style helped in seeing the outline of the morel cap against the background, describing it as a "Groucho Marx" imitation.

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