Editor’s Remember: I’ve said this a lot throughout the suggestions sooner than, particularly individual and throughout the physique of this submit. Let me say it yet one more time, correct up proper right here at first: Till you’re an expert mushroom hunter and chances are you’ll 100 % set up this mushroom, DON’T EAT IT. I wrote this submit for various consultants, not for merely anyone to suppose they’ve found A. muscaria. That’s extreme stuff, of us. Mistake this mushroom for a further amanita and you probably can die. Critically. ~Hank
No mushroom presents additional of an enigma than the fly agaric, Amanita muscaria. It’s probably the most recognizable mushroom on the planet, and is broadly typically often known as the hallucinatory ‘shroom responsible for Alice’s journey into Wonderland and pretty presumably our beloved pictures of a red-suited Santa Claus and his flying reindeer.
I’m not into hallucinations. Or stomach cramping, for that matter. So for years I let this beautiful mushroom cross on my mushroom hunts. Until remaining weekend. We have now been ostensibly searching for porcini, Boletus edulis, nonetheless as any king bolete hunter is conscious of, the fly agaric is definitely a pink flag indicating porcino is prone to be nestled shut by: They flush throughout the similar time, in throughout the similar place. And the place now we have been on California’s Central Coast there have been lots of of muscaria, a pink tide throughout the woods.
As we walked, selecting porcini and completely different implausible boletes, I began having a nagging dialog with myself: you probably can eat these amanitas, correct? Positive, nonetheless don’t they need all sorts of crazy processing first? Almost certainly. Nevertheless you’ll certainly not get a higher probability to experiment than with this flush correct proper right here, correct now. OK, OK. I grabbed a separate bag and commenced selecting.
I crammed a grocery bag in a short time. The reality is, I could have crammed the once more of my pickup with muscaria. Nevertheless I moreover had an infinite haul of porcini, the prize of the day. So I dealt with them first. My dehydrator ran morning and night for days. I made porcini powder, dried quarts of porcini, made porcini risotto, and even gave some up to date ones as Christmas presents. All the whereas my sack of amanitas lay neglected throughout the storage.
I bought right here up for air a few days up to now and decided to do some evaluation. I’ve quite a few mushroom books. Most say that amanita muscaria is toxic and hallucinatory. A lot of title it deadly poisonous, which seems to be a stretch considering there are fewer than a handful of confirmed deaths by this mushroom and all have extenuating circumstances. (A facet discover: fly agaric appears to be engaging to canine and cats and would possibly kill them within the occasion that they eat it, so maintain it away out of your pets!)
There could also be moreover, apparently, a whole fashionable subculture dedicated to tripping on this mushroom, and its use in visions dates once more lots of of years — significantly amongst those who dwell throughout the boreal forests of the north.
That’s the place Santa is offered in. My colleague Greg Marley, whose superb e book Chanterelle Wishes, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystique of Mushrooms goes into this at measurement, says that fly agaric has been a emblem of yuletide happiness in Central Europe, Russia and Scandinavia for lots of of years, calling it “a pink delicate shining vibrant throughout the winter darkness.” And the parents of the North, as any mushroom hunter is conscious of, are mad about mushrooms.