Mushrooms-Benign fungi, or would-be assassin-fruit?

Crap, I think my post title gave away the surprise ending-I still detest mushrooms. This shouldn’t shock people-they definitely seem like one of those foods that people have strong feelings about, one way or another. With this in mind, let me regale you with a lurid tale of desperation and violence, men at odds, and unnatural evolution.

I had decided, some time ago in my infinite wisdom, that an aspiring admirer of all things edible should probably expand his horizons a wee bit (Otherwise, Antonio would have reason to brand me a hypocrite! And we really can’t have that, now can we?) . I’ve already grown to enjoy things that previously roiled the contents of my stomach sac-mussels, various pastas, and other squishy, strange foods now are at least palatable.

As I mentioned previously, it’s obvious that people aren’t born hating foods, and subconsciously collect experiences during their formative years that determine a lot of their likes and dislikes (eg. why after all these years, the smell of McDonalds fries wafting in the air has me instantly hungry and salivating, regardless of how demonstrably vile the food inside really is. That, and I’m assuming they lace that stuff with some sort of aersolising MSG, so your tastebuds can’t help but be drawn to it.)

I don’t recall what set me on the path of avoiding mushrooms-Maybe it’s that they always look dirty, taste spongy, and have a fairly weak flavour that borders on tasting like dirt? I dunno. I do recall a family gathering of some sort at my grandfather’s place many moons ago-probably 13 years or so. There were these delightful little finger-pizzas that could be consumed in a few bites (or one large gulp, for the adventurous sort). I must’ve had a dozen of them, and as I was if nothing else, and inquisitive child, I had to discover what delightful animal provided the chunks of meat in them.

When I was informed that it was in fact that foul food nemesis, The Mushroom, I felt betrayed by my tastebuds. I felt sick. How could these glorious little discs go from tasting wonderful, to suddenly be the most revolting things I had accidentally endured? It’s not like the damn things changed one iota, but my mental handicap prevented me from ever enjoying them again (Don’t fret too much-“They” make them with pepperoni sans mushrooms, so my micro-pizza needs are being adequately met, for the moment).

With that firmly in mind, and my other recent forays turned victories, I felt I now had the mental toolkit to “learn” mushrooms, and go from suffering from them, to enjoying them, as much of fine cooking seems to revolve around their benighted existence.

First step-start small

Thanks to my lovely girlfriend, Jessica, I recently took some night courses at George Brown College (the college has a well respected cooking program-future entries will touch more on it). As is expected, mushrooms came up in many of the recipes-at first, I used them sparingly, with the excuse that Jess would enjoy them, and I’d be doing her a favour. I struggled through a few meals, and became giddy-headed with enlightment-I now had consumed mushrooms on a regular basis and had not only survived, but had enjoyed the food. Logically, mushrooms were awesome.

Sadly, I’m not widely reputed for my logic. Mores the pity.

I was now consuming mushrooms on a weekly basis, but they were still being hidden by the main elements of any given dish-my ultimate test was just around the corner, but once again, it wasn’t my choice.

The lunchbreak. For the average retail wage-slave, this is a 30 minute mad dash in which you have to eat food, and still find time to unwind, before getting your ass back out there to face the tired, unwashed masses. Sometimes, I bring a lunch, and sometimes I eat at one of the many vendors offering their wares. For the day in question, I chose to eat out at a local pan-asian place that offers decent food for a decent price (i’ll keep this brief, otherwise, this will become a restaraunt review). They aren’t exceptional, but they fill you up with food that isn’t deep fried and served to you by surly teens.

On the day in question, I wanted something quick to take back to our lunchroom at work, so I could return to whatever book I was tearing through. Soup? Yeah, that seemed like something manageable, that wouldn’t distract from my brain food. Unfortunately, the Hot n’ Sour soup I had previously was apparently of the Thai variety, and while pretty good, apparently wasn’t representative of all varieties. The one I brought back to work with me was at first mouthful, exactly what I had longed for, until my spoon chanced to plumb the depths of the container and return with a slice of a GIANT SHIITAKE. Now, being the kind of person who hates to waste food, I dutifully ate the damn thing, though my stomach began to tremble at the thought of having to put up with a bunch of slimy roommates who resemble pickled leeches.

After I dredged further, it became apparent that the make-up of the soup was roughly 50% broth, and 50% mushroom. Feeling queasy, I began the slow process of fishing for mushrooms, and depositing them in the paper take-out bag with a wet ‘plop’. Needless to say, it was revolting.

I was defeated.

So what happened?  Apparently, my previous successes weren’t as hard-won as I thought-I clearly had some well-crafted food (just to toot my own horn) that wasn’t utterly demolished by having mushrooms in them. When faced with a dish utterly, slavishly devoted to them, it became clear to me that I still can’t abide by them.

Who knows, I may give them a shot again in a few months, but for now, my energies are better used elsewhere.

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4 Responses to “Mushrooms-Benign fungi, or would-be assassin-fruit?”

  1. Do not regret!
    I applaud your fortitude!

    Resist the temptations of the Dark Side — you KNOW the mushroom thing is just an evil conspiracy. I mean, I LOVE food, but they don’t qualify—FUNGUS is not from the vegetable OR animal knigdom. It’s MOULD!

    Spend your palate-expanding energies elsewhere. Trust me.

  2. Okay, that “Zabby” person is just plain wrong. I mean “Zabby”? That just screams “person who doesn’t enjoy good fungi”. And you!–clearly I raised you wrong.

    although I am pleased to hear that you’ve actually had pasta touch your fork, and you’ve survived the experience.

  3. And you, sir, are damned funny!

  4. I will convert you yet >:I

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