Friday, August 05, 2011

Fungi Au Naturel

Those who know me - even a little - will be aware of the fact that as outdoorsy types go, I am at the back of the queue. Ce n'est pas mon m├ętier. Not really my glass of tea, as it were. I, let the record show, once drove two hundred miles back home from a camping trip to fetch a mattress because sleeping on hard, unsympathetic ground gave me backache. No sniggering, please.
No-one was more surprised than I at the willingness with which I agreed, or at least, surprisingly failed to make formal protest, when it was suggested to me that a trip to the forest to gather mushrooms was a really good idea. I looked outside. Rain had been falling intermittently all day. The ground was sodden and there was more than a hint of further downpour. I found myself in Caterpillar boots tramping along a narrow lane, climbing through a barbed wire fence and into, not a small spinney, or even a copse, but a fully formed, mature forest, devoid of human habitation, populated with flora and presumably also fauna if the hunting signs were to be believed; a very long way from a Starbuck's. The leaf canopy was close, but not close enough to prevent rain which had again begun to fall vertically and remorselessly since leaving the car gently soaking me to the bone. This was not, I have to say, a quiet stroll along well-manicured paths.  We walked. For some time. Secondary forest can be quite impenetrable and its branches young and supple enough to whiplash back quite sharply, catching one unawares, but, silly moi, I had forgotten to pack the machete.

The ground was a uniform kaleidoscope of green and brown. As instructed, I looked in vain for small, white, fungi poking their heads cleanly above the leaf-mould, but competition with local slugs made most a touch more difficult to spot. The one pictured was the cleanest and most presentable I could find.  Regular readers will be aware that my companion is an expert botanist, and as such, specimens in a variety of colours in what can only be described as various stages of decay were identified in Latin with squeaks of excitement. One species in particular when cut and the flesh exposed to the air immediately oxidised and turned a cyanotic blue, which brought back a faint memory of the reaction between oxygen and psilocybin - characteristically blue magic mushrooms. The ones in the video are edible. Apparently. I couldn't help but recall that fungi were also the cause of athlete's foot, which will no doubt provoke helpless laughter from those better informed than I.
As an afterword,  filet de boeuf with wild mushrooms was on the menu later. Tee hee...

3 comments:

  1. I will bet that you can get an app for your iphone that will turn anything you like blue! This would save you the trouble of trudging through the rainy forest but also eliminate the need for a cozy warm fire afterwards! And at least you get to play with your knife.

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  2. Latin and squeaks of excitement followed by anything edible 'whipped up' by Gipsy. What could be nicer?

    I am barely refraining from commenting on the whole camping thing. *muchsnickering*

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  3. Just because you were a Queen's Guide or Chief Ranger or Bull-Goose-Outdoor-Flavour of the Year who can light a fire with your teeth gives you no right to snigger at those who prefer their camping to include room service.

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