We found a really great fungus over the weekend, a cauliflower mushroom (Sparassis sp.). My copy of the book Mushrooms Demystified calls it both "edible and exceptional."
The mushroom, which doesn't look much like either a mushroom or a cauliflower, was growing at the base of a tree.
Up close, it was beautiful.
Of course, as members in good standing of the Mushroom Club of Georgia, we harvested the mushroom and brought it home to cook. My books all mention that
1. cleaning this particular fungus is not easy, and
2. cooking it so that it eventually becomes tender takes a while.
The books are right. I finally decided that a few little bark bits and dirt specks wouldn't hurt us, and that, even tough, this fungus was indeed exceptional. The texture was, as Joe pointed out, a little like "mushroom jerky," but the flavor was outstanding. I will definitely be looking for more of these!