Saturday, 21 August 2010

Fairy rings . . . and mushroom randomness

Learning is exciting. The other day, I learned a new term: fairy ring. It's a circle of mushrooms. Mushrooms are the fruit of a fungus that grows beneath the surface of the ground.

The first one I saw was on the groups of the Apricot Centre. There was a near-complete circle of mushrooms at the edge of the orchard. The second one I saw was out my window in the Quays. It was less impressive: a few mushrooms and a dead spot. It was also a funky shape, much more amoeba like than circular.

It's mushroom time in DC, too. There are some really large ones around, thanks to the wet warm conditions. Last night, I saw what looked like the start of a fairy ring, but it was interrupted by cement.

I'd like to have the knowledge to go about picking wild mushrooms and not risk my health. I've been told that it used to be, at least in Europe, that you could take your pickings to the pharmacist who could sort out which was which and tell you the ones that were safe to eat.

Then, the other day, I heard about a guy who's growing mushrooms in his fridge. Not the throw-in-your-pasta sauce kind, but the magical variety. The lengths people go . . . . When I was at UEA, I used to hear stories about people who'd gone magic mushroom picking in the woods. Apparently, they grow naturally wild there. I suppose there are worse things one could do and at least it gets the kids outside.
I have mixed feelings about mushrooms. I suppose it all comes down to how they are prepared and how much mushroom there is. Portobello is too much mushroom. Diced and in a sauce? Sounds nice. Smothered in garlic and butter? I could do with a few. Button mushrooms raw? If it were served to me. Stuffed mushrooms? I want to like them, but I'm just not that into them. I prefer to see them growing, in the ground, in random places, all different varieties. Mushrooms are fascinating, especially when they clean up toxic waste and cure smallpox.

Paul Stamets' Ted Talk

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