I am not Chinese. I know this comes as a shock to some of you, but it may also explain why I don’t have a vast mushroom repertoire . Something in me screams, “DON’T EAT IT!” It must be years of anti-fungal conditioning. My ancestors didn’t eat Shitake mushrooms, and so any mushroom that is not perfectly round, with only a bit of brown on top, seems poisonous to me. In fact, when mushrooms grow on our grass (not really a problem now that we’ve moved to the high desert plateau), I won’t even let my children touch them. Poison could seep through their baby skin or get put from baby fingers into baby mouths.
This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy a portabella grilled, or crimini or buttons thrown on just about everything I eat. But those come nicely sterilized in my local grocery store.
So, how adventurous does it feel to have, in my fridge at this moment, a Maitake mushroom? Also called Hen of the Woods, this looks like something fairies would live in (really rich fairies who can afford a Versailles-type mushroom). Or like the bottom of a ballroom dancer’s gown. It does not look like food.
And I’m going to eat it.
Probably not all of it. Probably I’ll share some with Hal. I’m thinking of making a mushroom-pesto and putting it on crusty french bread, in keeping with the Versailles image. I could put it in some Thai soup because how can you go wrong with coconut milk? If my mother had raised me on coconut milk, I’d be a better person today.
The options are limitless. Well, sort of. I don’t think I’ll sprinkle it with sugar and call it “cereal”, nor will I top it with a scoop if ice cream and call it “cobbler”.
Oooh, cobbler. I might have to think about dessert first, then figure out how to cook the mushroom.