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What are “porcini” mushrooms and what does “porcini” mean?

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Even though porcini mushrooms are grown all-year-round in especially designed mushroom caves, this is the time of year when they are typically in season in the wild. That’s why Chef Harvey likes to feature them in some of his fall dishes (traditionally, in Italy they are foraged and not grown and they are only served when in season).

So what does “porcini” mean anyway and why are the mushrooms called “porcini”?

The literal translation of porcini is porcine, meaning related to pork or pigs. It’s an ancient word that was used by the Romans, who, unlike us, considered porcini to be a poor person’s mushroom (as opposed to a rich person’s mushroom). Some also believe that because pigs were once used to forage the mushrooms, they were named for the animal. But it’s much more likely that the Romans simply didn’t appreciate how good they are!

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