Thursday, September 29, 2011
There's a lot of fear around mushrooms, fear created mostly out of mycological ignorance. In Australia we have such little knowledge of fungi, their role in ecosystems and their edibility. This previous post goes further into that sort of thing.
My friend and fungi teacher Alison Pouliot, an ecologist, photographer, writer and mycologist, is vehemently encouraging of amateur mycology, so I thought I'd share a recent discovery that I made:
Camp fungi – nibble methodology #1, 24 September 2011 (from my journal). Trametes versicolour (Rainbow fungus).
I found this bracket fungus growing in eucalypt forest alongside Sailors Creek at Bryce's Flat, Central Victoria. I have heard that the Dja Dja Wurrung ate Fistulina hepatica (Beefsteak fungus), another bracket fungus that also grows in the Wombat Forest.
However I don't know for sure if the Rainbow is edible so I aim to taste-test in the name of local ecological knowledge and relocalisation.
I choose a few small brackets, cut off the woody parts that were the point of attachment to the log, and fried them up in the pan on the camp fire using a little olive oil from nearby Guildford.
As I write I'm not in the least bit sure I'm going to be poisoned and as we've walked here from home to this beautiful camping spot I'll just have to tough it out around the camp fire tonight and trust that I'll overcome any adverse toxins. I have only had a small chip, and I say chip because what it tasted like was an overcooked, cold potato chip that's been lying around for a few days. In other words, an oily albeit edible tasteless crispy starch. The smell of this mushroom uncooked is earthy, vaguely fishy (permeated by freshwater eucalypt tannins). A good mushroom smell really, one you can trust, at least for a nibble, anything more at this point would be stupid. I'm with my girlfriend Meg and my son Zephyr, who I've not invited to partake in the experiment in case it all goes terribly wrong, and as it was my idea it is only fair I should carry it out. As I cooked the chips the mushroom gave off no unsavory smell, as mushrooms I have eaten in the past have, causing me to abandon eating them.I write this post several days later and I'm pleased to announce that I suffered no adverse effects. Next time I may soak this fungus in milk for a day as I've heard this makes beefsteak fungus more delectable. I will then eat a few more chips to text the toxicity again before being confident to serve up to others.
Stay tuned for more non-lab, in the field amateur science soon!