Saturday, November 1, 2008

What do I call a mushroom?

More and more people are growing what used to be thought of as wild mushrooms. This is delightful; but it leads to a problem for the food writer. I remember when mushrooms came in cans. Then there were fresh mushrooms sometimes called button mushrooms although they would often have had to be buttons for an elephant. Technically they are Agaricus campestris and grow in open fields often where animals have grazed. Pennsylvania was the first home of the domesticated mushrooms where they were grown on manure. Today, I have decided to call them white mushrooms when they are the store-bought, commonly available kind.
Should I specify "domesticated" every time I mention a less common mushroom? What about the wild morels picked out west over which lethal fights are fought. what do I do about chanterelles? I need help here.
While I do pick many mushrooms in the wild, I hesitatate to suggest them to readers. It's a complex subject. In France where such things are taken seriously, a pharmacists must be able to identify wild mushrooms and one can take ones foraged treasure into the shop and get them identified. You can try to locate a good teacher and take a course.
BUT...what do I call them?

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