I finally took photos of the pickled mushrooms (achara) that Alex and I prepped two weeks ago. As I was composing the recipe, I was smiling to myself thinking of Jun from whom my husband, Speedy, buys fresh mushrooms.
Speedy and Jun were co-workers for about a decade in a huge corporation. I remember meeting Jun in the office and being invited to his family's home for a fiesta. That fiesta lunch is my best memory of Jun. He served leche flan made from duck egg yolks, and it was the best leche flan I ever had. To this day, nothing holds a candle to Jun's leche flan.
That was long ago. The girls were still toddlers at the time. So much has happened since. The corporation was bought out by another and, pretty soon, the old-timers were being eased out to be replaced by the new bosses' own people. Speedy was recruited by a competitor while Jun stayed for a couple of years more.
I don't think they kept in touch after Speedy moved to another corporation. The next time he mentioned Jun years and years later, it was to relate how he encountered him in the market. Jun had left the corporate world behind and started growing mushrooms. He now has a regular spot in the market and the mushroom business has become his livelihood.
We've been his regular customers for years. And we're not the only ones. Some of Jun's regular customers started their own mushroom businesses too. One sells mushroom chips. Another sells mushrooms achara. It was after sampling the mushrooms achara (which I found too sweet) that made me decide to try experimenting with a home version.