Last year for Christmas, my son gave me a year’s membership in Auburn’s Osher Lifelong Learners Institute. I took a course in mycology, the study of fungi. Our course focused on mushrooms.
I think the reason I picked that course is that several of my favorite movies involve mushrooms. In the 1970s, I saw the Spanish film, The Spirit of the Beehive, a political allegory that includes a beautifully haunting dreamlike scene of a little girl who has eaten wild mushrooms, against the stark backdrop of Franco’s fascist regime.
My British mysteries often include death by mushroom. A favorite episode of Midsomer Murders, “Destroying Angel,” and Miss Marple’s “4:50 from Paddington” rely on knowledge of mushrooms to pull off murder. And I am chomping at the bit to see Academy Award nominated Phantom Thread in which mushrooms apparently also play a major role.
So a week ago when my son told me he had seen a bounty of chanterelles on his walk to work, I hesitated. But after he and I both did some research and consulted with a friend who forages on a regular basis and has lived to tell about it, we harvested the lovely mushrooms and cooked them in herbed butter. They were delicious.
Later in the evening, I was reviewing my notes from the mycology class and kept seeing names like “Death Cap,” “Deadly Dapperling,” and “Death Angels.” Then in bold letters, underlined, a warning from the teacher: “If you want to eat mushrooms, buy them at a reliable store!”
Fortunately, we had correctly identified the scrumptious chanterelles, but my first thought the next morning was, “Thank God we lived through the night!”
Marian Carcache welcomes
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