In the vast culinary world of edible mushrooms, only one can be called king. What Italians affectionately call the Porcini (the piglet) is a ruling class of the delicious fungi. The meat-like texture of Porcini, with its earthy and somewhat nutty flavor is unequaled among mushrooms and lends itself to countless dishes. Porcini can be found the world over, however American consumers have yet to fully utilize Porcini in all its forms, being mostly seen in its dried form. Nevertheless, there is much more to Porcini mushrooms than the dried bags found at the supermarket and while dried Porcini are excellent, the king of mushrooms deserves more respect.
Porcini belong to the Boletus genus of mushrooms, characterized by a soft, meaty white body that does not change color after it is cut (Boletus that change colors to blue when cut or bruised should not be eaten). All Porcini are Boletus but are all Boletus Porcini? It is hard to say as Mycologists (mushroom scientists) cannot agree on the finer points of the Genus, therefore, Porcini (or Boletus) can take on a range of shapes and colors but all grow under similar conditions. Porcini grow in association of specific trees and are considered mycorrihzal associates - in effect, Porcini live in a symbiotic relationship with the trees they grow under. Many mushroom foragers find Porcini living under pine trees, poking up through the dead