Thursday 12 December 2019
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theguardian - 25 days ago

Why mushroom-picking is the best form of mindfulness

From the concentration of looking for them and the care of picking them to the delight of eating them, mushroom foraging is a balm for lifeIn her new book, The Way Through the Woods, the Norwegian-Malaysian writer Long Litt Woon describes the various sensory pleasures that are involved in the gathering of mushrooms: the beguiling way they yield to the human their different textures, whether velvety or hairy, rubbery or p even the noises they make (some pop when snapped). Above all, there are the different ways that they smell. The prince mushroom comes with top notes of marzipan. The wood blewit brings to mind burnt rubber. The common stinkhorn emits the sweet aroma of rotting flesh.Smell plays a vital role in a mushroom’s popularity as food – though as Loon notes, this isn’t always straightforward. Different cultures favour different smells. When the matsutake or pine mushroom was discovered by a Norwegian mycologist in 1905, it was given the name Tricholoma nauseosa on the grounds that its odour was unpleasant (the American mycologist David Arora has since described it as being reminiscent of dirty socks). In Japan, however, where those who pick it wear white gloves and there are poems describing its virtues that date from 759 BC, it is considered to smell divine – which is why, in 1999, when it was discovered that T. nauseosa and the Japanese pine mushroom are the same species, people there lobbied for the right to rename it T. matsutake (the Japanese for pine mushroom). Continue reading...

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