Sunday, December 30, 2012
Each and every mushroom season the Bay Area news outlets report of at least one fatality from somebody eating poisonous mushrooms, making it necessary to tack on a reminder to mushroom foragers about the dangers of consuming unidentified, or, more often than not, misidentified 'shrooms. When these to-be-avoided woodland fungi often come with names like Poison Pie, Sickener and Deadly Conocybe, the average person could probably assume that there is a need for some caution when perhaps considering whipping these things up into an omelette. I could be being a tad cynical when I say that maybe it's just Darwinism at work - except that this year, a caregiver at an old people's home, near Sacramento, killed four residents when she served them up Death Angel mushroom soup. Like some modern day Typhoid Mary, the caregiver has been banned from working with and preparing food for the elderly ever again. Good call.
The past couple of months I have spotted many a mushroom popping up all over Vinoland, including the varieties Meadow Mushroom, Artist's Fungus and Sulphur Shelf. However, the majority of the mushrooms in Vinoland seem to be of one species, Paxillus involutus, the Common Roll-rim which, yes, can be fatal if ingested - otherwise they merely destroy red blood cells and cause renal failure, that's all. The Paxillius are rather large, fleshy mushrooms and it isn't too hard to imagine them chopped and tossed into a stir-fry and paired with a nice Nebbiolo. I, for one, am not looking to make a little mushroom concoction my last supper. I'll just admire them from afar.