Sunday, October 26, 2008

Exquisite mushroom

At this time of the year, I often find one or two specimens of this exquisite mushroom on the lawn beneath my bedroom window. It's the Coprinus comatus, commonly referred to as the shaggy ink cap mushroom. Its conical cap starts out smooth and white before becoming scaly and hairy. Then, within a day, black ink starts to drip from beneath the cap. Yuk! Normally, it's not my habit to eat exotic things of this kind, but I've made an exception with this mushroom, ever since finding them sprouting up at Gamone, and since learning that they must be eaten almost as soon as they appear. I've noticed that, whenever I step out onto my lawn in autumn, I automatically look around for ink caps. In fact, if I fail to pick them in the afternoon, my billy goat Gavroche discovers them in the early hours of the morning, whereupon he takes pleasure in destroying these delicate plants... which he doesn't even want to eat. Naturally, I studied the question of ink caps in my mushroom bible before daring to eat them for the first time. In the beginning, I used to fry them rapidly in butter, and eat them on toast. More recently, I've evolved to the stage of simply eating the young mushrooms raw, like fruit. There's even a recipe (which I haven't tried yet) about frying them rapidly in oil and then sprinkling them with sugar and cinnamon. The funny thing about this exquisite mushroom is that the Latin name Coprinus comes from the Greek word for shit! I wonder why it got such a name. It's true that, whenever I come upon the inky remains of shaggy cones lying half demolished in the grass after an attack from Gavroche, the global scene has a rather shitty look.

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