For those (very few) of you who haven't heard, I've been on the warpath in re the heinous price of pre-packaged dried porcini mushrooms. They are indispensable for four or five of my favorite dishes, but I refuse to pay $5.00 for one ounce. Back in Cambridge, the nearest Whole Foods sold them in bulk for about $26.00 a pound, which, when you consider the fact that an ounce is the most that is needed at a time for a good four servings of each dish, is not so bad.
The Whole Foods closest to the medical school has no bulk section, so I traveled to Tribeca, only to find a Whole Foods with a woefully inadequate bulk section. There's no way I was going to leave empty-handed, though, so I walked to Canal Street, intending to investigate Chinatown's dizzying array of dried mushrooms. Well. For $2.00, I picked up a quarter pound of what I thought might best approximate dried porcini. Mycologist I am not, for they were distinctly Asian and had not a whiff of porcininess about them. I also got a cheap grater, though, which I sorely needed, and had a nice walk, so I'll consider the trip not a total failure. Undaunted, I will continue my quest... to the Columbus Circle Whole Foods! Or maybe I'll learn my lesson and call first.
In the meantime, I used those Chinese dried mushrooms in an udon and vegetable soup. Home-making the udon was worth it, even though it meant I didn't get to eat until 8:30, since I didn't start the noodles until a little before 5.