The Fungus Among Us

When we lived in Wisconsin, one of the shelves in our basement root cellar bore a black blotch which no amount of scrubbing would remove.

Okay, I gave it only one shot, but the previous owners told me they’d tried, also.  They had attempted to grow mushrooms from a kit and the stain was all that came of their efforts.

Mushrooms growing around the large old oak trees lining the sidewalks of Charlotte are a sign the trees may be dying, enough to put the city tree crews on alert.

That’s a summation of what I know about mushrooms.  They grow where they want… thus, the tag on a basket of funny brown things in the supermarket produce department: “Morels – $24  lb.”

There are mushroom maniacs who seek their own, like Dawn Fine, who records her birding, ‘shrooming, and travel adventures on Dawn’s Bloggy Blog.  Birding and mushroom gathering must be harmonious pastimes.  Might as well look under a tree while you’re looking in it.

Those people probably know the difference between real morels, which (according to Wikipedia) are only mildly toxic if not cooked thoroughly, and false morels, which can cause serious gastronomical distress and loss of muscle coordination.  That mental picture–really needing a bathroom but unable to get oneself there–is enough to put the quietus on any hunting-mushrooms-in-the-woods treks for me.  I’ll get my poison ivy in the back yard, thank you.

I’m a toadstool umbrella aficionado, a hangover from the Raggedy Ann and Andy books in my childhood.  I’d rather read about mushrooms than eat them.

I was especially intrigued by a photo of some carrot-like mushrooms on Jane Prater’s knitting blog recently, since we live in the same city.   I sent the link to her request, “need gardening help,” to my Memphis master gardening guru friend, Dirtworm, who knows all about growing plants, but, it turned out, not much about growing carrot mushrooms.  In fact, she sent me a photo she’d taken of some mushrooms growing at their river cabin in Arkansas.  This one takes us from the realm of “strange” to “twilight zone weird.

As Dirtworm points out,  “… so ironic that this is the place we go to fish.”  

What th’. . . ???

Hello, Dawn…?  Anybody?


33 thoughts on “The Fungus Among Us

  1. Jincey

    When Hoot asked the topic of your latest post and I said, “Mushrooms,” he grinned and said, “Another one about Bonnie? This time about toadSTOOLS?”. Arrgh.

  2. Helpless with disgust at this shot.

    Mushrooms are something I’d like to know more about but probably never will. Like you, I prefer my fantasy of them and recipes to the actual item. Fairies live under them, that’s all I know for a fact.

  3. Geez. What a photo.
    Anyway, list me under FORMER morel maniac. When I lived in Michigan, we foraged for them in May…always under apple trees in a park across the border in Canada. (Probably wouldn’t have a prayer of getting there now) My mother dipped them in flour and fried them in butter. I’m telling you, they were divine.

    1. They SOUND divine! Isn’t it funny that you and Julie both picked mushrooms in Michigan around apple orchards. Is it something about Michigan or something about apple orchards?

  4. Julie

    This post brought back found memories of picking mushrooms in the woods behind our cottage in Michigan. Each summer the moms of the neighborhood and all of the willing children would trek through the apple orchard and cow pasture to get to the woods where the morel mushrooms grew. We were taught the art of spying the mushrooms and pointing them out to a mom, but we weren’t to pick them. I guess there was a method to plucking that we were too young to master. When all the mushrooms had been picked, we’d head back to a common back porch and sit around the buckets of morels and using a thread and needle we’d make long Christmas-tree-like strings of mushrooms. We would then divide them up between the families and head home with our prizes to hang them in our attics to dry and enjoy them at a later date in our mom’s recipes. One of my found memories from childhood. Thanks for sharing.

  5. We had something that looked like that in our yard. A few days later the top opened up and bent over and then looked like a standard mushroom. Is that going to happen to this one?

  6. Mmm…I think I will step away from that picture. I love mushroom cooked any number of ways and raw but I like buying them at the store–Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s….now the kind of toadstools that gnomes and fairies like to gather around I love reading about and the one’s that pop up in my yard are very pretty when the early morning light hits them and before the pups trample them…Oddly enough I have never had a pup that has shown the least bit of interest in eating a back yard mushroom. I do pull them up though…bad for business if I poison the guests.

  7. Mushrooms are amazing. Anywhere. Anyplace. Anyhow. Except for the poison ones. There was a novel about people who lived in a trailer park and foraged for mushrooms and sold them. I wanted to join them.

  8. That’s one sexy mushroom.

    I found and cooked a puffball last summer, but that’s the extent of my foraging. My friend Ronna finds morels and I am jealous. 🙂

  9. My FIL is an avid mushroom hunter. He and his siblings get together every spring at “the right time” and hunt morels. I don’t know the first damn thing, personally. Except, of course, that I’d be trying to sell the mushroom in that last pic on ebay! Certainly someone would put some $$ toward that falic looking thing!

  10. Every summer when he was a kid, my husband spent several weeks with his grandmother and cousins. She would send them out to gather mushrooms. They would pick every kind of toadstool and fungus they could find. She would sort them out, tossing out the poisonous ones and cooking the others. By some miracle, none of them ever got sick.

  11. Oh. What I do is ask the waiter for mushrooms. He finds them…somewhere…and brings them to me. I thought only waiters were allowed to find mushrooms.

  12. Dawn Fine

    Sorry it has taken me so long to get here and see this post. …crap..I am so behind…Thanks for the mention..I love Morel mushrooms as you know…and have had no trouble with ID and eating them..Yet..hee hee the shroom… The big weenus shroom Looks like Stickhorn // smelly and attracts flies.

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