Monday, February 20, 2012


Mushrooms near my house in Singapore
There is something very magical about mushrooms. They just appear suddenly overnight, as if summoned by a fairy's wand, and disappear almost as quickly, disintegrating into powder or slime in no time at all. They are entirely unlike other plants, with no leaves or woody stems or flowers: a simple stalk supports their head, everything pared down to the minimum. They come in strange colors, white and yellow and shocking red, with odd spots and wrinkles.

Mushrooms also fascinate me because some are edible and delicious, and others are terribly poisonous. A girl in my sister's high school class was from a foreign country where wild mushrooms were popular. Her family went mushroom hunting and mistook a poisonous Californian species for one safe in their home country. Everyone in the family (4 people!) required liver transplants as a result. It was very sad because the two children were quite young (11 and 16 I think), and transplants don't usually last longer than 20 years, and that's if you're lucky. I have no idea what happened to them.

I don't think I would ever be brave enough to eat wild mushrooms, but there's something very attractive about the idea of gathering them and feeding yourself as a result. I enjoyed the section about this in Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma very much.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, they all had liver transplants?? That's nuts!! Our garden is absolutely full of mushrooms, but I base my knowledge of whether or not to eat them off of whether I've ever seen them in the grocery store or not. Haha, super scientific, right? Well, I haven't eaten any of them because I just don't recognize them. Maybe I'd do more research into it if I thought I recognized one or two varieties!