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So many mushrooms

“Mushrooms were the roses in the garden of that unseen world, because the real mushroom plant was underground. The parts you could see - what most people called a mushroom - was just a brief apparition. A cloud flower.” Margaret Atwood,The Year of the Flood

I suspect this is going to be more or less just a photo shoot, but I do have a couple of short, coincidental things to say about them. I've done mushrooms before I know so this is not going to be about what to do with mushrooms.

On my walks of late I have noticed a huge abundance of mushrooms. They are absolutely flourishing this year. This group here I photographed a week or so ago. I have to say that I was tempted to pick this particular lot. They look so much like ordinary field mushrooms. And they may well be. Indeed I have my own crops growing all over our block as we speak. But I am nervous.

And this nervousness was enhanced by a fellow walker's comments yesterday about how people were in hospital and there had even been a death or two. And indeed there has. The Age, reported such in the paper yesterday. The unfortunate patients had eaten Death Caps. Here in Australia I currently only know of five different kinds of mushrooms growing wild. Field mushrooms - well we all know what they look like don't we? Only unfortunately there is also the Yellow stainer which looks remarkably like a field mushroom, although I believe if you scrape it it will ooze a yellow stain - hence the name. These are poisonous. The Death cap is really poisonous and I believe the deaths we have had have come from this. Then there is the Slippery Jack which I believe makes for good eating, but doesn't look that great and has to be treated somehow to reduce the sliminess. I can't remember how now. And finally the Pine mushroom which I believe is a real prize, and I was told once by a neighbour who knew these things that there are some growing up the road. And - another coincidence - the Mercer's take-away menu this weekend features pine mushrooms because somebody gave them some. Here are photos gleaned from the net to show - left to right, top to bottom - Yellow stainer, Death cap, Slippery Jack and Pine mushrooms.

The trouble is that as they grow old they all look a bit different and even when I was looking for photographs there were pictures of the same variety of mushroom that looked completely different. So I fear it's a better safe than sorry scenario really, unless you know someone who really knows his mushrooms. Maybe they should teach them in school.

Anyway I really just wanted to show off my pictures so here they are. I have no idea what they all are. If you click on the first one I think you can go through a sort of slideshow.

They are completely fascinating really. Some of them are really pretty, even beautiful, some are completely repulsive. Such a pity that most of them will simply go to waste.

“The cookery books will give you a thousand finicky devices, mushrooms in this, mushrooms in that, but there is only one way—to fry them, simply with bacon, until they swim in their black fragrant juice.” H.E. Bates,Through the Woods


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