Mushrooms are often underestimated and we usually ignore that there's a fascinating whole delicious world to be discovered during the fall and winter season.
There are a little over 2,000 kinds of mushrooms. Some countries use more than 30 types of them in their kitchens. They can be cooked and served in every possible way and there are even fun tours to do mushroom hunting into the woods. People book trips to countries which economy relies on mushrooms and they even assist to music concerts in the woods like I did in Castilla y Leon in Spain.
Right now they are at their best; coldness and rain humidity of this season, turn them into a total lusciousness. Take a careful look when grocery shopping and you surely will find at least 4-5 of the most common ones (baby bella, portabella, shitake, oyster, trumpet). If you happen to be in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Michigan, Missouri, California, New York, Argentina, Spain, France and Italy, you will have a banquet since those are mass collection places.
Mushrooms vary according to soil, weather, season and the surrounding trees. They even do mushroom tasting like they do with wine which is the best way to get to know their appearance, aroma, texture, juiciness, flavor, chewiness and even pairing them with a specific dish, if raw or cooked...in an Italian or Asian dish, for example.
Take them fresh to your kitchen! Make sure they're firm and bright, not dull; with a dry surface, not soggy and without wrinkles or dark spots. Store them in a plastic bag in your fridge or in a glass bowl with a towel covering them up. They last a couple of days but the fresher the better. Don't clean them until right before using them and don't rinse them with water; just slightly brush them or wipe them with a damp cloth. The dried ones need to be soaked before use to rehydrate.
You can have them in salads, stews, soups, rice, pasta, pizza, sándwiches, raw, flat grilled, fried, braised, oven roasted or sautéed for 3 minutes in extra virgin olive oil with some garlic salt and pepper and a drizzle of white wine of your choice. Don't overcook them so you can keep their flavor and texture.
Back in the day, mushrooms were valuable; they were called "God's Food" and people used to say they helped with longevity and vitality. Shiitake, maitake and reishi types come in pills because of their anticancer properties and, its immune system "boost" fame is well known in natural medicine. Their nutritional value varies according their kind but in overall they're healthy with excellent levels of vitamin B, C, low in calories and good levels of protein, fiber and of course, cholesterol free.
Enjoy them... they don't bite you anymore!