Mushrooms
 

     The fam and I devoured several large platefuls of chicken of the woods, with actual chicken and with pasta. It was absolutely ambrosial, one of my best mushroom-eating experiences ever.
Only later did I read that you must be sure to eat only completely fresh flesh, otherwise you could be in for some toxic side-effects, such as your lips turning numb.  After the second plateful, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a mouthful of gastric juices that had suddenly spurted up.
      Like any red-blooded Slav, I am a passionate mycophile and consumer of wild fungi. WASPs tend to be more squeamish about this sort of thing. This is because, as Gordon Wassen explains in his fascinating book, Russians, Mushrooms, and History, Slavs never worshiped them. Anglo-Saxons did, and to dissuade them fro their mushrooms cults, the early missionaries persuaded them that all mushrooms were poisonous and loathsome toadstools.
     How could there be chantrelles in the Ituri Forest of Congo that are visually indistinsuishable from the ones we pick in the Adirondacks, as I report in Dispatch#2? How could you get almost the same mushrooms in the tropical, temperate, and boreal zones ? (There are also very similar chantrelles in Nepal.) The answer to this and many other questions is in Olle Person's The Chantrelle Book, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley

 

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