Lisa Munniksma

freelance writing, editing, farming, travel

Don’t eat yellow mushrooms

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The haul from about two hours of mushroom hunting was impressive. I contributed very little to the basket this day!

The sage advice you were given as a child, “Don’t eat yellow snow,” applies to the fungal world, as well. Instead of a mouthful of dog pee, however, by eating a yellow mushroom, you’d be meeting your demise.

I’ve lived in areas of the U.S. where mushroom hunting is a serious hobby. In Sardinia, it’s much the same, though it seems to me that there are at least as many toxic mushrooms as there are safe mushrooms, and many look exactly alike.

On this farm in Sardinia, the mushrooms hide in plain sight. The first few times I accompanied the farmers on mushroom-foraging missions, I failed miserably. After I caught on to the game, my skills were not super, but I was starting to find mushrooms even when I wasn’t looking for them.

On a day when we were renovating the outdoor kitchen, farmer Lucia and volunteer Matthew found several mushrooms just outside the kitchen area, under an olive tree. Before they even cut them, Lucia guessed they were toxic mushrooms. One whiff of the mushrooms, and the ink-/chemical-like smell told Lucia for certain that they were not good. When she scratched the surface, the mushrooms turned yellow—another telltale sign of danger.

Wooded areas with beautiful views are ripe with fungus-y goodness, making me think a mushroom-hunting hobby might be right for me.

Wooded areas with beautiful views are ripe with fungus-y goodness, making me think a mushroom-hunting hobby might be right for me.

Matthew and I were glad she was there, as these mushrooms looked to us just like the ones we’d been gathering and eating for weeks, and I didn’t pick up on anything amiss with the smell. Poisonous mushrooms are nothing to toy with, so there was a moment of tension as Matthew and I recounted the fungi we’d found and eaten the day before. The surface definitely didn’t turn yellow—we would have remembered that. We are both still here, so apparently our mushrooms were fine. Lesson learned, though—I’m not interested in mushroom-gathering without an expert by my side any time soon.

I like the process of mushroom hunting, however. Patience is a trait I could use some practice with, and there is no such thing as too much time spent in the woods. Now on my holiday wish list: a mushroom-foraging book.

2 Comments

  1. Did you get your mushroom guide book?!

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