Alright so that headline is a bit of an eye grabber but I do like it. At this time of year I love mushroom spotting and occasionally picking and eating.
The first wild mushroom I ever picked and ate was when I was about seven or eight and the mushroom in question was a common puffball. Back home Mum fried it in salt and butter for me and I ate like a Queen. Looking back, I enjoy the irony that I could forage and eat wild mushrooms but not use the cooker. I also learnt about all sorts of stuff that I couldn’t eat, happily there were also lots of fly argarics around (the fairy mushroom, bright red, white spots), so a very obvious eater and an even more obvious DO NOT TOUCH. Since then, my mushroom habits haven’t changed much, the mushrooms I pick and eat are really obvious ones that don’t look like anything else and then I fry them in salt and butter (and also garlic). I would normally add wine because, wine. But wine and wild mushrooms can sometimes be a really lousy combination. Cramping over porcelain with head in bucket type combination.
Today I may have discovered a new one to eat. It smells delicious, proper mushroomy, and a did a nibble and spit and that was also delicious but I am now waiting for some confirmations that it is indeed Hen in the Wood, Grifola Frondosa. This is a different mushroom to Chicken in the Wood. The only thing it can be mistaken for, is one that inedible but not poisonous. This is as brave as I get.*
Incidentally the taste and spit test? Nibble a piece no larger than half your little finger nail. Get a taste then spit it out. Do NOT swallow. I also don’t do this if I am completely uncertain of what the mushroom is and I absolutely don’t do this if I am aware that there is a possibility of a poisonous species. Some people do and swear that its OK and they have of course lived to tell the tale. But I absolutely don’t. And if you choose to, and then die, don’t blame me.
This year the only edibles I have found have been Chanterelles. Poor me. Ha ha. So something like hitting the lottery, never found before and now I understand the fuss. They were excellent, found growing through an ivy floor up in the Idless Woods.
I have also found several Blushers which are apparently tasty but are easily mistaken for The Panther which is poisonous to the extent of being lethal. So, no. I shall never be tasting a Blusher in case I get it wrong. Permanently.
* Turns out it wasn’t Hen of the Wood, just plain old Meripilus Giganticus, Giant Polypore.