Fungal Fear in Fownhope

Ricardo has sent me in his latest adventure.
(To hear all about how he fell off his perch have a listen to Podcast 52)

In the meantime:

"What a year for mushrooms. I’ve loved the taste of fungi since I was a tiddler. My Grandfather would push them off is plate onto mine, I’m not sure if he pretended not to like them just so as he could watch my face light up with glee, or whether he truly loathed the earthy pungent flavour and squidgy texture that tends to epitomise mushrooms.

I want to experiment more. My brother-in-law visited a couple of weeks ago to harvest some wood for a pig roast he was having on bonfire night. Carl turned up early, anticipating a hearty breakfast before going ‘wooding’ and I had visions of bacon and eggs with an accompaniment that’s unsurpassed – parasol ‘shrooms’. Swinging between my trusty crutches (I recently tried parascending from a ladder without a parachute!) I negotiated my way up the rugged bank behind the house with Carl bringing up the rear swinging a wicker basket in which to gather our wild harvest. We found some lovely young horse and parasol mushrooms and something that looked like a cep. Got too give it a go I thought! Eating fungus that you haven't identified as edible might not be the best idea, but I was fairly sure that I’d seen something like it before, so we popped it in the basket. Breakfast was sizzling away under the grill when we got back to the house, but my wife Sarah shuddered when she saw what I presented her with. Sarah is paranoid about carcking it from fungus poisoning, in reality poisonous fungi are few and far between. Having said that there are some which will quite literally kill you if eaten. “Are you sure these are ok” Sarah said, “they’ll be fine” I replied. Breakfast was served; the mushrooms however having been sliced and fried had become really slushy and frankly unappealing, having gone to the trouble of picking them though I had to eat a few. The flavour was great but the sliminess was unpleasant. As things transpired I had wrecked the eating experience of our parasol and horse mushrooms by cooking them with what turned out to be a bay bolete not a cep. These chunky exquisitely flavoured mushrooms should be dried prior to cooking I found out subsequently. Having fortuitously not poisoned Sarah’s brother I think there could well be a lesson learned here! I’m going on a mushroom foray next year with someone that can tell us what’s tasty and what’s not, in an attempt to quell Sarah’s fears. Does anybody have any recommendations? Of course, I could always grow my own with impregnated logs of shiitake mushroom spores for instance and then identification becomes less of a problem! From Richard.

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