Peter and Jill Graystone held, what has fast become,
an annual barbecue on their mushroom farm this past
August 27th. Reports were very enthusiastic indeed with
the big wood barbecue doing yeomans services to all
manner of foodstuffs. VMS members numbers around 30
of the estimated 70 attendees. Jurgen filetted salmon
and prepared mushrooms for the multitudes. Mushroom
types included wild Black Chantrelles; cultivated white
and king oyster; lobster; bear claw and enoke. Chicken
of the Wood was available but remained uncooked as the
crowds were sate. Salmon, fresh corn, baked potato and
good dessert rounded off the meal. Many thanks again
to Peter and Jill Graystone for their wonderful hospitality.
Summer barbecues are always a lot of fun and this was
happily, no exception.
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I wasn't deluged with answers to questions I posed
on genus Lyophyllum; it is obviously not a group of
mushrooms that causes excitement. The most interesting
response came from Paul Kroeger; he noted that in an
article in a recent Mycologia reported that other fungi
had been found to have granules in their basidia which
darken with a carmine stain. The one characteristic
that defined Lyophyllums is invalid.
When research funds become available, some scholarly
taxonomist may well split genus Lyophyllum into its
natural components and we shall have to learn some more
genera names. Of course, while he/she is at it, Collybia's
may reconsidered along with other members of that diverse
group labelled Tricholomataceae.
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I do not recall which of us, my wife or I, first dared
to put into words back in the forties the surmise that
our own remote ancestors, perhaps 4000 years ago, worshipped
a divine mushroom. In the fall of 1952 we learned that
the 16th century writers, describing the Indian cultures
of Mexico, had recorded that certain mushrooms played
a divine role in the religion of the natives. The so-called
mushroom stones really represented mushrooms, and that
they were the symbol of a religion, like the cross in
the Christian religion or the star of Judea or the crescent
of the Moslems. Thus we find a mushroom in the center
of the cult with perhaps the longest continuous history
in the world.We have found this cult of the divine mushroom
a revelation, in the true meaning of that abused word,
though for the Indians it is an everyday feature, albeit
a holy mystery, of their lives
There are no apt words to characterize your state when
you are, shall we say, "Bemushroomed."
Whåt wë ñèéd î§
ªll thë mºdålïtïê§
ðf å dïvïñë ïñéþrïåñt.
These difficulties in communicating have played their
part in certain amusing situations. Two psychiatrists
who have taken the mushroom and known the experience
in its full dimensions have been criticized in professional
circles as being no longer "objective." Thus
we are all divided into two classes: those who have
taken the mushroom and are disqualified by our subjective
experience and those who have not taken the mushroom
and are disqualified by their total ignorance of the
subject. I am profoundly grateful to my Indian friends
for having initiated me into the tremendous mystery
of the mushroom. Of alcohol they speak with the same
jocular vulgarity that we do. But about mushrooms they
prefer not to speak at all, at least when they are in
company and especially when strangers, white strangers,
are present. Then, when evening and darkness come and
you are alone with a wise old man or woman whose confidence
you have won, by the light of a candle held in the hand
and talking in a whisper, you may bring up the subject.
They are never exposed in the marketplace but pass from
hand to hand by prearrangement.
The Aztecs before the Spanish arrived called them Teonanacatl,
God's flesh. I need hardly remind you of a disquieting
parallel, the designation of the elements in our Eucharist:
"Take, eat, this is my body ...", and again,
"Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the
flesh of Thy dear son..." The orthodox Christian
must accept by faith the miracle of the conversion of
the bread into God's flesh: That is what is meant by
the Doctrine of Transubstantiation. In the language
of the Mazatecs the sacred mushrooms are called 'nti
si tho. The first word, 'nti, is a particle expressing
reverence and endearment. The second element means "that
which springs forth."
"The little mushroom comes of itself, no one knows
whence, like the wind that comes we know not whence
nor why." For more than four centuries the Indians
have kept the divine mushroom close to their hearts,
sheltered from desecration by white men, a precious
secret. We know that today there are many curanderos
who carry on the cult, each according to his lights,
some of them consummate artists, performing the ancient
liturgy in remote huts before miniscule congregations.
They are hard to reach, these curanderos. Do not think
that it is a question of money.
Perhaps you will learn the names of a number of reknown
curanderos, and your emissaries will even promise to
deliver them to you, but then you wait and wait and
they never come. You will brush past them in the marketplace,
they will know you, but you will not know them. The
judge in the town hall may be the very man you are seeking:
And you may pass the time of day with him, yet never
learn that he is your curandero. After all, would you
have it any different? What priest of the Catholic Church
will perform mass to satisfy an unbeliever's curiosity?
Religion in primitive society was an awesome reality,
"terrible" in the original meaning of the
word, pervading all life and culminating in ceremonies
that were forbidden to the profane. Let me point out
certain parallels between our Mexican rite and the mystery
performed at Eleusis. At the heart of the mystery of
Eleusis lay a secret. In the surviving texts there are
numerous references to the secret, but in none is it
revealed. From the writings of the Greeks, from a fresco
in Pompeii, we know that the initiate drank a potion.
Then, in the depths of the night, he beheld a great
vision, and the next day he was still so awestruck that
he felt he would never be the same man as before. What
the initiate experienced was "new, astonishing,
inaccessible to rational cognition." It also seems
significant that the Greeks were wont to refer to mushrooms
as "the food of the gods," broma theon, and
that Porphyrius is quoted as having called them "nurslings
of the gods," Theotrophos.
They were not for mortal man to eat, at least not every
day. We might be dealing with what was in origin a religious
tabu... I do not suggest that St. John of Patmos ate
mushrooms in order to write the book of Revelation.
Yet the succession of images in his vision, so clearly
seen but such a phantasmagoria, means for me that he
was in the same state as one bemushroomed. The advantage
of the mushroom is that it puts many (if not everyone)
within reach of this state without having to suffer
the mortifications of Blake and St. John.
It permits you to see, more clearly than our perishing
mortal eye can see, vistas beyond the horizons of this
life, to travel backwards and forwards in time. To enter
other planes of existence, even (as the Indians say)
to know God. All that you see during this night has
a prisine quality: the landscape, the edifices, the
carvings, the animals - they look as though they had
come straight from the Maker's workshop. This newness
of everything - it is as if the world had just dawned
- overwhelms you and melts you with its beauty. All
these things you see with an immediacy of vision that
leads you to say to yourself, "Now I am seeing
for the first time, seeing direct, without the intervention
of mortal eyes."
It is clear to me where Plato found his ideas. It was
clear to his contemporaries too. Plato had drunk of
the potion in the Temple of Eleusis and had spent the
night seeing the great vision. And all the time you
are seeing these things, the priestess sings, not loud
but with authority. Your body lies in the darkness,
heavy as lead, but your spirit seems to soar and leave
the hut, and with the speed of thought to travel where
it wishes in time and space, accompanied by the shaman's
singing and by the ejaculations of her percussive chant.
What you are seeing and what you are hearing appears
as one: The music assumes harmonious shapes, giving
visual form to its harmonies, and what you are seeing
takes on the modalities of music - the music of the
spheres. All your senses are similarly affected: The
cigarette with which you occasionally break the tension
of the night smells as no other cigarette before had
ever smelled. The glass of water is infinitely better
The bemushroomed person is poised in space, a disembodied
eye, invisible, incorporeal, seeing but not seen. In
truth, he is the five senses disembodied, all of them
keyed to the height of sensitivity and awareness, all
of them blending into one another most strangely, until
the person, utterly passive, becomes a pure receptor,
infinitely delicate, of sensations. As your body lies
there in its sleeping bag, your soul is free, loses
all sense of time, alert as it never was before, living
an eternity in a night, seeing infinity in a grain of
sand. What you have seen and heard is cut as with a
burin into your memory, never On the other hand, the
drug is as mysterious as it ever was: Like the wind
it cometh we know not whence nor why.
If our classical scholars were given the opportunity
to attend the rite at Eleusis, to talk with the priestess,
they would exchange anything for that chance. They would
approach the precincts, enter the hallowed chamber with
the reverence born of the texts venerated by scholars
And what would be their frame of mind if they were invited
to partake of the potion? Well, those rites take place
now, unbeknownst to the classical scholars, in scattered
dwellings, humble, thatched, without windows, far from
the beaten track. If it is the rainy season, perhaps
the mystery is accomplished by torrental rains and punctuated
by terrifying thunderbolts. Then, indeed, as you lie
there bemushroomed, listening to the music and seeing
visions, you know a soul-shattering experience, recalling
as you do the belief of some primitive peoples that
mushrooms, the sacred mushrooms, are divinely engendered
by Jupiter Fulminans, the god of the lightning bolt,
in the soft mother earth.
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Mushroom gathering in New Mexico, especially collecting
for the pot, is often sparse, but punctuated with episodes
of abundance. Especially during these avalanches of
abundance, preserving the harvest and preventing waste
can be demanding to be sure. People often ask me what
I collect at such times. Though I touched upon this
previously in a newsletter, people continue to press
me for a more comprehensive dissertation. So here goes.
1. Blanching and Freezing - This section was printed
in Winter 2000 edition.
2. Steaming - Published in Spring 2000
3. Oil or Butter Sauteing - then Freezing - My favorite
method of perserving Agaricus mushrooms, especially
those with anise or almond overtones. Boletes, chanterelles,
any of the drier textured mushrooms such as Lobster
mushrooms, and Man on Horseback (Tricholoma flavovirens)
benefit from saute oils and do this method justice.
Method - Slice, chop, or prepare mushroom pieces as
preferred. Fry in butter or olive or walnut oil for
any standard fried mushroom dish, stopping the cooking
process slightly before normal and allow to cool by
transferring mushrooms to cool pie plates, glass or
baking dishes, etc. When cool, portion mushrooms into
small freezer containers and freeze. To use, simply
pop out the portion onto a saute pan with a little of
the same oil or butter used to first prepare them. Do
Advantages - Reproduces the texture and taste of a mushroom
saute best. Easy and convenient.
Disadvantages - Usually more air exposture inside freezer
container; and air is what causes freezer burn, so may
not preserve the quality for as long in the freezer
as those methods excluding air, such as freezing under
broth. Patting mushrooms gently to bottom of container
into solid block and then placing some plastic wrap
directly on mushrooms before covering with container
lid helps some.
This is part 3 of 7. Other techniques include:
Sautéing then freezing; Drying; Canning; Pickling;
and Salting. Stay tuned to future newsletters for details
on these other methods of Preserving the mushroom.
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MOSCOW, July 17 (Reuters) - Poison mushrooms have killed
95 people and hospitalised hundreds of others in Russia
so far this summer, local news agencies said on Monday.
Russia's RIA news agency reported that 32 people had
died after eating the deadly fungus over the past weekend
alone, 24 in the region of the central city of Voronezh
and eight in Volgograd.
Gathering wild mushrooms in the woods is a favourite
Russian pastime during the summer season despite a yearly
death toll from toadstools, mistaken for their more
edible relatives. Russian Surgeon General Gennady Onishchenko
told Ekho Moskvy radio on Monday some of the poisonings
were due to the fact that a local variety of the death
cap-the world's deadliest mushroom-had mutated to look
like ordinary champignons.
Many of the victims were also elderly people with failing
Radio and television stations in some regions were
cautioning people against collecting any sort of mushrooms,
saying even normally edible types could make people
ill due to pollution. In Voronezh where the death count
was the highest, traders were forbidden to sell mushrooms
in markets and police with loudspeakers were posted
at the edge of forests repeating a warning: "Pick
no mushrooms, they are poisonous."
"But how long can you beg, plead and order these
grown people?" Onishchenko asked.
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Tree-killing mushroom is largest living
thing ever foundAssociated Press
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Beneath the soil of the Malheur Na-tional
eastern Oregon, a fungus that has been slowly weaving
its way through the
roots of trees for cen-turies has become the largest
living organism ever
The Armillaria ostoyae, popularly known as the honey
from a single spore too small to see without a microscope
and has been
spreading its black shoe-string filaments, called rhizomorphs,
forest for an estimated 2,400 years, killing trees as
it grows. It now
cov-ers 890 hectares.
"We ended up having on the landscape this humongous
Dreisbach, a botanist and mycologist at the U.S. Forest
Northwest Research Station in Corvallis, said Friday.
In 1992, another Armillaria ostoyae was found in Wash-ington
607 hectares near Mount Adams, mak-ing it the largest
known organism at the
"We just decided to go out looking for one bigger
than the last claim,"
said Gregory Filip, associate professor of integrated
forest protection at
Oregon State University and an expert in Armillaria.
"There hasn't been
anything mea-sured with any scientific technique that
has shown any plant
or animal to he larger than this."
Forest Service scientists are interested in learning
to con-trol Armillaria
because it kills trees, Filip said, but they also realize
the fungus has
served a purpose in nature for millions of years.
The outline of the giant fungus, strikingly similar
to a mushroom,
stretches 5.6 kilometres across, and it extends an average
of three feet
into the ground. It covers an area as big as 1,665 football
fields. No one
has estimated its weight.
The discovery came after Catherine Parks, a scientist
at the Pacific
Northwest Research Station in La Grande, Ore., in 1998
heard about a big
tree die-off from root rot in the for-est east of Prairie
Using aerial photos, Parks staked out an area of dying
trees and collected
root samples from 112.
She identified the fungus through DNA testing. Then,
by comparing cultures
of the fungus grown from the 112 sam-ples, she determined
that 61 were from
the same organism, meaning a single fungus had grown
bigger than anything
anyone had ever described before.On the surface, the
only evidence of the fungus are clumps of golden
mushrooms that pop up in the fall with the rain. "They
are edible, but theydon't taste the best," Dreisbach
said. "I would put lots of butter and
garlic on them."
Article contributed by Steven Prahacs and Eileen Seto
from The Montreal Gazette, August 6, 2000 :
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Recipe: Mushrooms Florentine
serves 4 as an appetizer
12 to 16 medium mushrooms with caps
1/4 lb melted butter
1 1/2 tbl. onions, minced
1 tbl shallot, minced
3/4 cup, fresh spinach, cooked and chopped small
1/4 tsp nutmeg, frshly grated
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tbl Parmigiano or Asiago cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Wash mushrooms & remove stems. Dip the caps into
6 tablespoons of the melted butter and place them upside-down
in a buttered or oiled baking pan.
3. Chop the stems small and saute them in a little butter
and olive oil mix with the minced onion until the stems
have lost their water and the onions are limp. Add the
minced shallot and cook for 5 minutes more.
4. Add the spinach which has been squeezed very dry,
meat (optional), nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir and warm
5. Fill the caps with the spinach mixture. Sprinkle
the grated cheese over the top of the filling and bake
for 15 minutes.
(adapted with appreprication from Mycena News,
April, 2000 vol 50:4 of The Mycological Society of San
Francisco and cooking member Patrick Hamilton)
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Olympic Park Institute is offering an Ecology of Mushrooms
course this fall. The course will be given October 20-22
and you can contact the Institute at (800) 775-3720.
Wild Mushrooms 2000 - Breitenbush
October 26-29, 2000
Breitenbush Hot Springs in Detroit, Oregon
17 th Annual event begins at dinner Oct., 26 and runs
through to Sunday lunch. Cost $295 US or $235 for weekend
only. Deposit of $205 required. Info & registration
Guest mycologists include:
Patrice Benson ,
Dr. Bryce Kendrick,
Taylor Lockwood and
Dr. Jim Trappe
Schmok Fall Foray
Oct 13 -15,2000
Location: BCIT Forest Society Woodlot 28101 Dewdney
Trunk Road, Maple Ridge, B.C. V2W 1M1. Arrive Friday
after 5PM. Signage on Lougheed Hwy. Turn off between
281th and Dewdney Trunk Road. Gate will be shut but
unlocked. Follow road signs to Building approximately
5 minutes travel time. Amazing value at $30 for registration,
2 nights accommodation, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and
a dinner. Accommodation is varied from 2 bedrooms to
a big floor to 2 large teepees to the great outdoors
for your tent pitching pleasure. We are hoping for 30
people to attend and look forward to many many mushrooms.
Partial attendance is also possible and the cost breaks
out as follows:
Registration &/or Accommodation $10; Breakfasts
@ $3; Lunches @ $4 and dinner @ $6.
Please call David Tamblin before Sept. 29th to register.
Location perks .... wood firplace...slide projector...the
great outdoors...stainless steel kitchen...Jurgen &
Christine & Victoria in that kitchen...birds in
the trees...mushrooms afoot...songs in the heart
* Oct 3, 2000 Tuesday, Regular Meeting 7:30 P.M. The
classroom, Van Dusen Gardens, 37th & Oak Street.
Paul Koeger will conduct a basic mushroom identification
seminar complete with spore prints. Members are encouraged
to bring mushrooms for identification.
* Oct 13-15, 2000, Week end foray to Woodlot 007. see
insert for more information & registration.
* Oct 22, 2000 Annual Mushroom Show at Van Dusen Gardens.
More information on the show will be provided at the
next regular meeting.
* Nov 7, 2000 Tuesday, Regular Meeting 7:30 P.M. The
classroom, Van Dusen Gardens, 37th & Oak Street.
* January , 2001 time once again for the Annual Survivor's
* Feb 6, 2001, Regular Meeting 7:30 P.M.. The classroom,
Van Dusen Gardens, 37th & Oak Street.
* Check out the Mushroom Hotline for up to date information
Other speakers for the regular monthly meetings will
*Jeff Chilton of Gibsons and author of a book on Mushroom
Cultivation, speaking on same.
* Wilf Schoefield, pre-eminent biologist from UBC will
talk on the Alaskan Peninsula & Aleutian Corridor
* Pat Williston, Graduate student dealing with Lichens
& The Kamloops Grazing Cattle
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