What’s the Deal with Mushrooms?
Some of them get you as high as a kite, and others can kill you, but all of these little fungi are fascinating. They help with the decomposition of dead trees and animals. And they are a symbol of the most internationally iconic video game, the Super Mario Brothers. A whopping 45,000 species of mushroom exist all over the world. Also, after much trial and error by our ancestors, we of the human race learned that some of them are even a great enough nutritional benefit to use for medicinal purposes.What makes them so good for us? Is there a reason that a lot of vegetarians use them in broths and salads, or why they make a good garnish? We will examine several types of mushrooms over the course of the next few weeks, worldwide, to find out.
South American Edible Mushrooms
From Spring to Fall, mushrooms grow both on farms and in the wild in Southern Chile. Chile is one of the 4th largest exporter of mushrooms worldwide. And they play a massive role in the local Chilean diet, as well earned their place as exotic ingredients in high-end restaurants. We will dive into Chilean mushrooms both common and rare, and figure out just what makes them so unique. Because there was little I could find on the nutritional benefits of these mushrooms, I am going to take the low road on this one and offer a corresponding recipe with the mushrooms I found.
These mushrooms have an interesting texture to look at and have unique properties that make this a special import in places like Japan and France. The dihueñe or digüeñe is one of the first few that bloom during mushroom harvest season, and are normally found growing on the trunks of oak trees.
Their texture is chewy and their flavor is subtly sweet. So much so, that one person who tried preparing it while on a trip to Chile warned prospective diners to “go lightly” with any flavoring that they plan to soak the mushroom in. The most popular way to eat this kind of mushroom is with scrambled eggs, on salads, and tortillas.
Another noteworthy mention of this species of mushroom was that Charles Darwin indexed it while on his travels through Tierra del Fuego in June of 1834.
Thanks to Conchaytoro, I have found the best traditional Chilean recipe for people to try at home if they somehow get access to this mushroom as a delicacy. They make a great ingredient for the spicy sauce that often accompanies a typical Chilean dinner, pebre. Click on the photo below for the recipe.
Dark and Light Pine Mushroom-
These are the largest and most common mushroom export for Chile. These mushrooms are found blooming commonly at the base of pine trees from late fall to early spring. Harvesters of the fruit both dry, then mix the two species of mushroom into bags of Callampas. Callampas makeup about 90% of Chile’s mushroom exports and are used the most often in pasta sauce, stews, soups, or with meat dishes.
Pine Mushroom Recipe
Food and Home provided this recipe that takes mushrooms back to their roots in Italian cuisine, Mushroom risotto with prawn. This dish is great for the days when you want to put things together in your kitchen in a simple fashion, but want something more nutritionally sound than hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. Click on the photo below for the recipe.
This edible fungus is more common worldwide, but they are a staple of the local diet in places like Brazil, and Mexico. The mushrooms are fragile and are picked whole by locals who prepare them in a variety of ways. Eating too much of them will cause a laxative effect, (which is the case with most mushrooms in large quantities anyway) and it is important that if you do go shopping for them, that the ones that are safe to eat are either white, beige, or yellow. Any other color means that they are either rotting or poisonous.
Coral Fungi Recipe
Did you know that you could pickle mushrooms? I have never heard of it until today! Sure enough, the recipe for pickling these delicate fungi are written by Racheal Benson, a chef that has an entire article about the prep and storage of these mushrooms.
Like this article? Check out more at Beksbites.com!