Mushrooms, the Great All-Rounder?
This morning I discovered a cluster of mushrooms in my backyard.
No doubt a different version of myself, perhaps a Stuffed Olive from a parallel universe, might have found this discovery romantic. She might have said, “Ah, how delightful be these wee shrooms. Perhaps they be a gathering place for the faerie folk. Tonight I shall return with ambrosia and commune with the fae beasties!” (I don’t know why, but if her accent is anything to go by, she also seems to be Scottish or a pirate).
For the real wee Olive, however, the seemingly harmless ring of mushrooms held much more sinister overtones. You see, as a child I underwent a troubling experience involving wild fungi. It all began as innocently as the mushroom circle in the previously envisioned parallel universe. Until…
“Mushrooms!” my sister shouted with amazement after finding mushrooms in our backyard.
“Ooooh!” I joined in.
“Dinner!” my father declared.
I’m still not sure what he was thinking. My father was not usually a bad dad, so I can’t be sure why he decided to feed his small children potentially poisonous wildlife.
Perhaps it was his enviro-hippy attitude coming out. He had always been one to encourage us to find ourselves in nature. Frequently he would suggest that me and my sister participate in disturbing outside activities, such as bushwalking, to which I would answer, “I’d rather not,” much in the same tone as I declared, “No Dad… not ‘dinner’.”
Alas, he was not dissuaded. Alas-er (that is to say, even-more-alas), my friend Simone was visiting for tea.
“What’s for dinner?” she asked merrily. She always enjoyed eating at our house because of our mutual tomato sauce addiction – a condiment that was discouraged at her place.
“Toast,” I said as my father declared with a look of glee on his face, “Vegetable surprise!”
Despite my arguments, my father insisted that we all try the meal he made. Of course, when Simone discovered its ingredients, she was as disturbed as I. Neither of us ate our prescribed meal. Instead, having pretended to eat, the two of us shuffled off to my room until we were able to sneak into the kitchen to raid the pantry for biscuits and cheese.
Thankfully, it all worked out in the end. Understandably, Simone decided not to return to my house again, that or her mother found out and refused to let her visit. However, I was still allowed to go to her place where her mother kindly fed me tripe, blood sausage and brains.. Not having eaten the mushrooms, Simone and I continued to be healthy children with a rational fear of garden found mushrooms. And while my sister and father appeared to suffer no short term illness from their meal, I’m still not convinced that there haven’t been some long term side-effects.
As you know, I’m a rational person, so I don’t hold this experience against mushrooms in general. In fact, I pretty much think mushrooms are freaking delicious. Mushrooms that are store bought, mushrooms that are most definitely actually mushrooms are great! But wild circles of mushrooms in the backyard that could just as easily be poisonous toadstools – well that’s a different story altogether.
I feel like this story would have held more gravity if my sister had consumed the mushies only to become so ill she had to be rushed to hospital – ambulance sirens blaring and doctors asking, “…why did you feed her wild toadstools?!” But I wouldn’t lie to you, not even for the sake of a good moral to my story. After all, surely you are wise enough to take the following advice without the need of a sick child as evidence.
So here’s my suggestion to you: Unless you planted it in the first place, or bought it from a reputable source – do not eat wild vegetation. Equally, don’t feed wild vegetation to your children. It is not a complex rule to follow, but it’s a good one.
(PS. Dad, I love you. Thanks for reading my blog!)