I'd met Tyler of Mushrooms For My Friends a few times socially. I knew that he made a living as a mushroom forager, working for some guy who allegedly had the market cornered on toadstool distribution in the greater Boston area and beyond. But I didn't really understand anything else about the operation, other than that, well, people pay good money for a prime piece of a fungus.
Thanks to a recent New England Cable News feature, I now know that Tyler works for a man named Ben Maleson, a sextuagenarian who has spent most of his adult life in the mushroom trade. Maleson is every bit as quirky and corny as one would hope an international mushroom dealer would be, delivering up plenty of "fun guy" puns as he tells the story of how he molded this career path for himself. Spoiler: it's pure happenstance and hustle, kind of like how tasty fungus grows.
Also he plays the mushroom trumpet.
Maleson (understandably) plays coy on the subject of magic mushrooms — "they're all special," he says. One would assume he at least knows how to identify the fun ones, though I couldn't tell you if he keeps tabs on where they do or don't grow.
Anyway, it's a short, fun look at a very odd job.
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