Michael Pollan’s book left me curious about mushrooms, and keen to try some seasonal varieties as they become available. At the moment, it is possible to order Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) and King Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus eryngii) from Emile Peloquin, an Ottawa-area dealer in local and organic foods. Both are quite tasty when fried at increasingly high temperature along with butter and diced garlic. One interesting fact about Oyster Mushrooms is that they are one of a relatively small number of carniverous fungi, with a mycelium capable of killing and digesting nematode worms. Another is that they are the only wild mushrooms I have ever been involved in the collection, cooking, and consumption of, during the second LIFEboat Flotilla.

I am looking forward to trying Chanterelles (Cantharellus) and Morels (Morchellaceae Morchella), both of which feature prominently in Pollan’s book. If I can find suitable guidance somewhere, I would also be interested in trying my hand (it is probably more accurate to say ‘my eyes’) at mushroom hunting.

[Update: 11 February 2008] I cooked up quite a sampling today: cremini, shitake, oyster, and agaricus mushrooms, all nicely fried up. Agaricus is not terribly interesting, but they look cute in the mixture.

[20 February 2008] One interesting explanation for my newfound love of mushrooms could be Vitamin D deficiency. Ottawa is hardly the sunniest place in winter and, even on the days that are both cold and bright, one’s skin is mostly covered. 1/2 cup of mushrooms can contain 2700 IU of vitamin D, which is important for the proper functioning of many bodily systems.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

7 thoughts on “Mycophagy”

  1. What does that last comment have to do with eating mushrooms? Oh. Wait. I get it.

  2. Chanterelles are wonderful, especially if you add a bit of apricot to highlight that aspect of their flavour.

  3. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 69, No. 1, 95-98, January 1999

    “Bioavailability of vitamin D from wild edible mushrooms (Cantharellus tubaeformis) as measured with a human bioassay”
    Terhi A Outila, Pirjo H Mattila, Vieno I Piironen and Christel JE Lamberg-Allardt

    “We showed for the first time that ergocalciferol was well absorbed from lyophilized and homogenized mushrooms in humans and that vitamin D bioavailability can be studied in humans with such an experimental protocol.”

    At least one peer reviewed study showed that humans can absorb vitamin D from mushrooms. After three weeks, they found no statistically significant difference between people eating mushrooms and those taking vitamin D supplements with the same total quantity of the chemical. There was a statistically significant difference between both groups and the control.

  4. “Our results showed for the first time that ergocalciferol was well absorbed from lyophilized and homogenized wild mushrooms in humans. In addition, the results indicated that the bioavailability of vitamin D from dietary sources can be conveniently studied in humans with such an experimental protocol. In conclusion, mushrooms can be reliably recommended as a natural vitamin D source. However, the bioavailability of vitamin D from fresh, nonlyophilized mushrooms was not conclusive and should be evaluated further.”

  5. I’ve heard rumors that people in the tribe aren’t happy with my leadership. Specifically, that people aren’t happy with my plan to discover which mushrooms are edible and which mushrooms are deadly poisonous.

    But listen up: This plan is bigger than you or me. It’s bigger than who dies eating poisonous mushrooms and who doesn’t. This is about the culinary future of humanity, people.

    You’re right, we do have fire, language, and symbolic art—the human race is doing pretty well. But I think it’s clear that we’re never going to reach our full potential until our dietary repertoire includes mushrooms. Somebody has got to step up to the plate and start eating random mushrooms. If we do this—if this tribe discovers which mushrooms are not poisonous—history will look upon us as heroes, my friends.

    I never said this would be easy. There are literally thousands of different mushrooms in the forest, and so far we have discovered—let me check—zero edible mushrooms. Compare that to the seventy-three mushrooms that we have confirmed are deadly. I wonn’t sugarcoat it: Those are not good numbers.

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