Saturday, May 9, 2009

I Didn't Die

I thought I was being the original foraging, frugal gourmet, when someone I trusted identified my find as Almond Portobellos, or Agaricus subrufescens. He thought he detected the signature almond scent. I didn't but thought it must just be very faint. Oh goodie! Reassured with a quick glance at a reference book, I immediately sauteed them up with herbs, a few leftover veggies, and butter, topped some pasta with it, and voila, lunch. They were quite good, though no almond taste either, I thought, while reading further in my Mushrooms of Hawaii book. Funny, they also didn't meet a few other criteria. No annulus near the apex, no yellow bruising on lower half of the stalk when touched. Oh Boy. Dum de dum dum...

No, I didn't die. Or get sick, force myself to throw them up, or even have indigestion later.

Further reading in the mushroom identification guide leads me to believe what I ate was Agrocybe procera. They seem to have all the qualifications. I'm presently doing a spore print, which should help. Thing is, the book says, Edibility: unknown. Maybe I'm contributing to mycology here. Using myself as a guinea pig. I don't recommend this technique.

If anyone else wants to contribute their professional or amateur gourmet opinion, feel free. Another quote from the book which sort of worries me: "Although we are unable to identify this species with certainty, it is very similar to Agrocybe procera, described from Chile."

They were growing in wood chips compost, by the way.

Also, the gills turn brown with more maturity. I wonder, should I eat the ones I picked this morning?

Monday afternoon update: I visited the charming Dr. Don Hemmes, Mycologist and co-author of the above referenced mushroom identification guide, at the University this morning, with my spore print and some sample mushrooms. He confirmed their tentative species as the Agrocybe procera, and had a good story of the only (aside from me) other eating experience he'd heard of. He was called to the emergency room at Hilo Hospital to examine some mushrooms the parents of a 5 yr. old child brought in with the the little girl, who had apparently ingested a large quantity of them. When they were asked about why she did this, her two older brothers were observed to be sheepishly studying the floor. They had given her some story as to why she should eat those magic mushrooms. Well, she didn't turn into a fairy, or get sick either. I didn't even have the excuse of thinking they were magical. Just edible.


  1. mushrooms are a really difficult case when it comes to food - i usually leave it to the experts!

  2. Yes, that is probably a wiser, safer route. Though foraging the aisles of a supermarket can also occasionally prove hazardous to your health.

  3. I am glad you did not die!