Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Fungi

Authors, AWSB, Book Titles, Greens, Sonoma County / Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

This little mushroom of mine…I’m going to let it shine.

Nothing like ringing in the 2018 New Year (Happy New Year btw) with a small homage to fungi, so before you pack away your party hat and your glittering party blower please consider our small but mighty friend the mushroom.

The mushroom may best be described as a bit like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for this ingredient has the power to transform into the wiliest of complex flavors with a little heat and butter. Yes, he may look a tad pudgy and innocent in the beginning, but put him in the pan and watch him sweat out his innocence for your delight.  The mushroom’s aroma transforms instantly by directing you back to its earthy roots and as the mushroom’s textural sponginess absorbs anything and everything, you can happily bank on never having the same meal twice if you choose to highlight the mushroom come mealtime.

Where does the mushroom take its stance in literature though?  Chances are that almost any fairytale sitting on your bookshelf has some reference to a wee child out foraging for mushrooms.  This seems to be a popular sport in fairytale land, so let’s take a closer look!

First we know mushrooms like dark, dank places to grow and the ridiculously scary forests of Germany, Russia, and England seem to do just the trick.  We also know that not every mushroom is for eating, many are poisonous, and therefore novices should be highly warned and stick to store varieties.  (Leave the mushroom collecting to the experts.)  Next we know mushrooms are maybe not the highest in nutritional value when compared to SuperGreens, but that’s not going to stop us from saying they are a SuperFood, packed with fiber, and a good source of various vitamins.  Lastly, we know that it’s not wise to send small children out wandering around the scary forests of Asia or Europa collecting mushrooms. Whatever happened to:  unload the dishwasher, finish your homework, and don’t forget to feed the dog?

So, I leave you with this –

As you bring in the New Year of 2018, take a walk through the produce section or visit a local fungi farm (mine will be Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. in Sebastopol, CA)  and see what mushrooms are available.  Try a Chanterelle, Cremini, Morel, Portobello, Shiitake, Oyster, or do a little something new with a white Button.  (I find minced shallot, butter, white wine, Herbes de Provence, and salt/pepper seem to get the ball rolling).

Bon Appétit,