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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

SETAS - MUSHROOMS

Mushrooms
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Cat  bolets, L. Agaricus campestres, etc, Eng wild mushrooms. Essentially, these are members of the basidiomycetes group of fungi (see hongos). In Europe there are some 3,500 species including saffron milk caps (Sp. niscálo), truffles (Sp. trufas) and amanitas, poisonous mushrooms.

 As mushroom spores are not visible to the human eye, during the Middle Ages, wild mushrooms were defined as ‘spongy vegetables spontaneously born after rain in meadows and the majority produce colic.’ 

Avenzoar relates that wild mushrooms are much worse than truffles, for they when totally digested generate a chyme that is a little noxious. Mushrooms growing in manure can cause death by poison or asphyxiation. 

Although much has been learned since, mushrooms continue to contain many secrets for men. It has been found that wild mushrooms are more prolific in areas with large rat populations. Too, man has had very little success in cultivating these species. 

Sliced Mushrooms for Frying
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Of the edible fungi in this group, the same cooking rules apply for hundreds of years. They can be grilled, cooked in ashes or fried if the flesh is very soft. Boiling them causes loss of aroma and flavor. They can be served as a side dish as seen in Richard II of England’s coronation or to garnish roast meat or fowl. Sent Soví calls for a mushroom sauce with parboiled and fried mushrooms mixed with ground herbs, spices and chopped onion and vinegar and verjuice. They are added to sauces to enhance the flavor. 

The poisonous amanitas and puffballs, unfortunately have a place in history. Agrippa, Emperor Claudius’ fourth wife, had him poisoned with the death cap (Amanita phalloides) in order for Nero, her son from a previous marriage, to succeed as emperor, which turned out to be an important step in the fall of the Roman Empire. 

Pope Clemente VII was poisoned by the death cap too. It is believed that Buddha died from an unidentifiable mushroom growing underground. Still people die from puffballs or mushroom poisoning every year. 

[Anón/Grewe. 1982:CLXXXXV:165; ES: Cobos. Oct 1, 04; ES: Farabee. Jul 2, 01; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:91; and Villena/Calero. 2002:24a:39b:40b]

See blog titled "cagarria" for Sent Sovi's Recipe CXXXXV "How to Make Mushroom Sauce," published June 20, 2012 and blog titled "Hongo" published April 6, 2015 for a different version of the same recipe.


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