Tag Archives: mushrooms

PSMS’s 2011 Wild Mushroom Show

We really turned up the nerd quotient this weekend at the Puget Sound Mycological Society’s Annual Wild Mushroom Show. We’re rank amateurs when it comes to wild mushroom knowledge and experience, but we make up for it with enthusiasm. There were cooking demos, mushroom identification experts, and activities for kids (including a mushroom petting zoo). We even squeezed in a fascinating lecture by Britt Bunyard about really weird mushrooms.

The highlight was the main room of the show: an exhibit of countless mushrooms, grouped by type in semi-natural forest exhibits. The diversity of mushrooms is extraordinary, and I was impressed that they had so many fresh specimens in one place at one time. We saw famous choice edible mushrooms, like chanterelles, bolete/porcini mushrooms and the coveted Matsutake. There were poisonous mushrooms, deadly mushrooms, and mushrooms that didn’t look like mushrooms at all. Here are some of my faves:


Witch’s butter, or Dacrymyces palmatus. It’s an edible but flavorless rubbery jelly. Just because you can eat it doesn’t mean you should. The name and appearance made it look like a witch had hocked up a bright orange witchy loogie and spit it out on a log.


Ramaria/coral fungus. This haunting fungus looks like the tiny hands of lost souls reaching up from a shipwreck on the bottom of the ocean. I love it.


Pseudohydnum gelatinosum / jelly tooth. There was a specimen of this guy in the petting zoo. Playing with it reminded us both of sticky hand toys. We learned you can roll this mushroom in sugar to produce “Nature’s Gumdrop.” Let me know if you try that.


Clitocybe odora smells like licorice, no joke. We also sniffed candy caps (maple-y), Matsutakes (spicy), and a Russula that smelled like shrimp. There was even a mushroom that smelled like grape soda, though we could only detect a hint of it.


Mycodeltiology: the study of postcards with fungi. I’m not sure if this is a real thing but the postcards were adorable.


This gnome was knitted with yarn dyed with mushrooms. I learned that you should not underestimate the extent of mushroom-inspired art.

Oh, and during the lecture we learned there is a fungi called cordyceps that infects insects and turns them into zombies. Well, okay it controls their body just before killing them and growing out of the corpse. Check out this video:

You can see more of Krista’s mushroom photos here. I had a great time at the show, and I know so much more about how much I don’t know about mushrooms.

xoxo,
Jess

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from the forest

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Artist’s Conk

While we were out collecting chanterelles for our pizza the other day, we found several pieces of artist’s conk. This wood-like fungi is so cool looking, and it makes a crackly-crunch when you break it off a tree stump. And then you can take a twig and draw on the light side. Just a light touch and it leaves dark brown lines that are permanent.

We named him Admiral Mushroom.

Or maybe Professor Mushroom. Cap’n Conk?

We are easily amused, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t a bad thing.

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forage

Tonight we will dine on chanterelle pizza thanks to my little family of foragers. Our friend Anna has been sharing her mushrooming spots around town. Don’t worry moms, they take a field guide.

Even Levi, the notorious mushroom hater, has been getting in on the hunt. This child has disliked mushrooms since he was tiny. Back in the day, he would actually vomit if he tried them. I think our adventurous eater is now slowly starting to try a mushroom here and there.

I hope to join in on the fun next time. While you do have to be very careful with fungi, I am inspired lately to become more of a forager. Why pay $5 for a tiny container of blackberries or $15 a pound for chanterelles when these grow wild right around us? Conversations about foraging lately have caused me to take notice of the fear of food that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic in neat little rows at the grocery store. Thankfully this only inspires me to get more in touch with where my food comes from.

Now I just have to learn how to clean and cook these behemoths. I am ashamed to admit that the last time Jess brought home a lobster mushroom we let it go bad. And boy was that ever gross (not to mention baffling) to have our vegetarian fridge smell like rotting fish. Lobster mushroom recipe suggestions welcome, people!

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