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Vegetarians in Paradise_Mushroom History

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					 Vegetarians in Paradise/Mushroom History, Mushroom Nutrition, Mushroom Recipe




                THE HUMONGOUS FUNGUS AMONG US

Includes Recipe Below

The humongous fungus among us develops in dark, mysterious ways without a root to grow on. As a
matter of fact it doesn't even produce a single leaf, pretty flowers, or seeds but prefers to grow alone in
the dark. You've probably guessed we're describing a favorite food that is available in a host of varieties
belonging to the mushroom family.

Since mushrooms do not grow in sunlight from plants with leaves that bring nutrients into the plant,
mushrooms must receive all their nourishment from the organic matter on which their spores are
cultivated. Some of the eclectic growing media include live or dead tree trunks, rotted wood, sawdust,
natural or synthetic manure, hummus, decayed rags, compost, rusty metal, and even dirty glass.

The name mushroom is thought to have been derived from the French mousseron, a term that included
edible mushrooms as well as poisonous varieties. Today, the word mushroom refers only to edible fungi
and is generally thought of as having a cap and a stem. Those without the typical stem and cap are
identified by their specific names such as morels or truffles.




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                                              Though we may hear the term wild mushroom referring to portabella,
                                              oyster mushroom, shiitaki, enoki, and crimini mushrooms, most
                                              mushrooms are actually grown on farms rather than gathered in the
                                              wild. The Mushroom Council tells us that the term "specialty
                                              mushroom" is quickly replacing "exotic" mushroom when referring to
                                              particular varieties like wood ear, or maitake.

                                  Mushrooms of all varieties have been revered worldwide except by the
                                  British who to this day only consume the field mushroom. Wild
mushrooms are thought to be simply toadstools, poisonous and inedible. This negative attitude goes
back to the 17th century when Gerard in his Herbal said, "Most of them do suffocate and strangle the
eater." Venner, another 17th century writer, expressed even stronger contempt when he wrote, "Many
phantasticall people doe greatly delight to eat of the earthly excrescences called Mushrums. They are
convenient for no season, age or temperament." In 1784 John Farley in his The London Art of Cookery
referred to mushrooms as "treacherous gratifications." In other parts of Europe, wild mushrooms have
been gathered and eaten with great enthusiasm.

History
During the era before 10,000 BCE, when hunting and gathering were a part of every day life, women of
the Americas did the gathering. Because they were supposedly blessed with the special ability to see
better in dim light, they were successful in foraging for mushrooms and fungi along with young nettles,
ferns, birch and willow shoots, and water weeds. The foods that women gathered were not just
supplementary to the diet, but when hunting expeditions were unsuccessful, these foods were the staples.
One could say that the women were successful in bringing home the mushrooms. During this era before
fire was discovered, all foods including mushrooms were eaten in their simplest form, completely raw.

Seneca, a first century Roman philosopher, dramatist, and statesman, said of mushrooms, "(They) are
not really food, but are relished to bully the sated stomach into further eating." Diderot, an 18th century
French encyclopedist and philosopher was quoted in the Encyclopedie, "Whatever dressing one gives to
them, to whatever sauce our Apiciuses put them, they are not really good but to be sent back to the dung
heap where they are born."

Pliny, the Elder, a naturalist and writer of the first century C.E., was acquainted with truffles as were the
Babylonians. Desert truffles were well known and highly revered in medieval Baghdad. These truffles
might have come from the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, an area that is even known today for its wealth
of truffle mines.




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Pierre Francois de la Varenne, a chef of the French court during the mid 17th
century, brought some modern touches to traditional French cooking of that era. He
created a dish that remains classic in today's French cooking. Named for Marquis
d'Uxelles for whom he worked is the French dish, Mushroom Duxelles, a
preparation of minced mushrooms cooked in butter and seasonings which is
combined with vegetables, rice, or breadcrumbs to make a flavorful stuffing.

Mushrooms were gathered and eaten from the time of early man, yet it wasn't until the 18th century that
the details of their cultivation were fully understood. Because mushrooms in the garden often appear to
pop up overnight, even the ancient scholar Dioscorides thought them capable of spontaneous generation,
a belief that held fast throughout medieval times.

There were early writers who could distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous varieties but
didn't include information on mushroom cookery until Paulet's book was published in 1793. More highly
praised is a book written in 1841 by Roques whose work is still thought to be the best treatise on
mushroom cookery to this day.

Charles Darwin relates his observation of a Patagonian mushroom. He tells us that the women and
children of Tierra del Fuego, an island off the coast of Argentina, gathered fungus in great quantities and
ate them uncooked. Other than a variety of berries growing on the island, the natives did not eat any
vegetable other than the fungus.

Mushroom cultivation reached the United States in the late1800's with the use of imported spawn from
England. Many problems arose from this imported spawn leading to experiments by USDA scientists to
produce a pure culture virgin spawn. In 1903 they achieved success, and production began a year later
by the American Spawn Company of St. Paul, Minnesota. Since then, mushroom cultivation has--well--
mushroomed.

Folklore
Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics reveal that mushrooms were thought to bring immortality and that only
the pharaohs, who were thought of as godlike, could receive this privilege. Commoners, therefore, were
not even allowed to touch mushrooms. Since mushrooms in ancient times were not cultivated but only
gathered in the wild, the commoners probably ate their share on the sly.

Many cultures believed that eating mushrooms could endow them with super-human strength. This
belief was prevalent in Russia, China, Greece, Mexico, and Latin America. Other beliefs concluded that
partaking of mushrooms could lead the soul to reside with the gods.

Mushrooms grow upward with such surprising strength they are said to push up cement stones.

Some cultures believed that eating mushrooms gave them clairvoyance in locating lost objects.

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Mushrooms were known to be such a powerful aphrodisiac that they became infused into important
rituals and ceremonies. The Normans, during the 11th century C.E., traditionally prepared a wedding
dish that contained a pound of mushrooms to be fed to the groom only.

An Ancient Greek artifact from the Etruscan period, 8th century B.C.E., depicts unusual mushrooms,
either the poisonous amanita muscaria or panaeolus papilionacceus, at the feet of Nessus the Centaur.
Centaurs earned their reputation of possessing both divine wisdom and rather naughty behavior. Some
believe their mischievous antics were enhanced by these potent fungi rather than by the ale and wine
they consumed.

Of those who have studied Greek mythology, some believe that the ambrosia consumed during the
Mysteries of Orphic and Eleusinian rituals was actually made from mushrooms, possibly the dung
mushroom (panaeolus papilionacceus.) Some scholars believe that these same mushrooms powered the
fierce Norsemen known as berserkers who worked themselves into a frenzy before battle.

In France truffles were unknown until the 14th century. As with many foods at that time that were
unfamiliar to Europeans, truffles were attributed with powerful aphrodisiac abilities. The colorful legend
of the Duke of Clarence tells that he married an Italian woman with a dowry of the hills of Alba, Italy,
an area that was rich with truffles. On the night of his wedding he was said to have eaten so many
truffles, referred to as "white diamonds," that he died before enjoying their magical abilities.

Medicinal Properties
Mushrooms have been used medicinally by many cultures. Even Hippocrates prescribed them for
healing. While some of their proposed healing abilities are strictly folklore, recent medical studies have
been recognizing some genuine healing properties.

Asians have known for many years that shiitake mushrooms have medicinal powers with the ability to
lower cholesterol and blood pressure, boost the immune system and inhibit tumor growth. Lentinan
derived from the shiitake mushroom is used to treat cancer in Japan. Doctors in the U.S. are just now
taking a look at these facts.

                               For many centuries mushrooms have been characterized as an aphrodisiac. While
                               there have not been medical studies to test this belief, you might conduct your
                               own investigation, and in the process discover they produce a laxative effect,
                               provide a natural antibiotic, offer protection against tumors, lower cholesterol,
                               and rev up the immune system.



In 1960, a scientist at the University of Michigan discovered that shiitake mushrooms contained an
antiviral substance that could stimulate the immune system. Most studies on shiitakes have taken place
in Japan where their health benefits have been noted for boosting the immune system to produce more

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interferon, the body's defense against viral and bacterial infections.

Other studies have found that Chinese black mushrooms, known as wood ear, contain an anticoagulant-
type substances, acting like blood thinners that may prevent blood clots. The effect was likened to that of
aspirin.

The trace mineral germanium, found in mushrooms, is noted for its antiviral and antitumor effects.
Germanium also energizes the body. With so many healing abilities and such variety of flavors and
textures, mushrooms just may help the body generate energy, offer protection against tumors and virus
infection, and bring complete satiety to the mushroom aficionado.

Mushroom Varieties
Button or white mushrooms, agaricus bisporus, that many historians consider characterless, are the
cultivated variety of field mushrooms, agaricus campestris and the most common mushroom grown and
sold in the United States. They are strictly cultivated in rich compost in special mushroom houses where
heat and humidity are carefully controlled. The process that takes about four months begins with the
preparation of the compost made from straw, corncobs, cottonseed, cocoa seed hulls, gypsum, and
nitrogen supplements. In two or three weeks lacy filaments called mycelium appear in the compost
which is then spread with peat moss. Soon, small white, pin-like protrusions form on the mycelium and
begin to develop caps. Mature mushrooms are ready to harvest in about two and a half to three weeks
after the peat moss is applied.

Enoki mushrooms, or enokitake, flammulina velutipes, originated in Japan and was gathered in the
wild, but in the United States they are strictly cultivated on live or dead tree trunks as well as tree roots
and even branches that are covered with soil. Grown in clusters, they develop long thin stems, about four
inches, with tiny little caps, the largest being the size of a pencil eraser. With their delicate ivory color
and dainty appearance, they're prized for their ability to provide a simple yet dramatic garnish.

Shiitake mushrooms, lentinus edodus, also known as Japanese black forest mushrooms, have been
commercially cultivated since their original journey from Japan and are widely available either fresh or
dried in supermarkets as well as in Asian markets. Originally harvested from hardwood trees in their
native country for at least two thousand years, they are best cultivated on artificial logs. Shiitakes have a
medium brown color with a distinctive, thick, umbrella-shaped cap, and offer a rich, distinctly earthy
flavor and chewy texture.

Oyster mushrooms, pleurotus ostreatus, remind one of little ears with many tiny, closely formed gills.
Color can vary slightly depending on variety, from pale gray, to light beige, and sometimes pink or
yellow. Oyster mushrooms are cultivated and grow well on rotted wood in clusters. Once purchased they
should be used quickly, within a day or two, to avoid becoming soggy.

Morels, morchella esculenta, have a unique, conical cap about 1" to 5" in height with a mustard brown
colored, honeycomb-like appearance. Their stems are usually white but can also become more yellowed


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as they grow older. Morels appear in the spring and are gathered in the wild in wooded areas.
Scandinavians refer to morels as "truffles of the north."

Criminis or Creminis, agaricus bisporus, similar to the white mushrooms, are a brownish color and
denser in texture with a pronounced earthy flavor. Another distinguishing feature is their thick, firm
stem. Criminis are cultivated just like the white mushrooms. What makes criminis taste so different from
white mushrooms is the variety of microscopic spores from which they develop.

Portabellas or Portobellos, agaricus bisporus; With a name like portabellas, you might think these
spectacular giant mushrooms come from Italy. Actually, they are just criminis that have been allowed to
grow six or seven days longer. Originally a mushroom farmer had overlooked a growing area and
discovered the large caps by accident. At first he thought they were unmarketable but soon discovered
they were highly sought after. Because of their longer growth time, portabellas have a distinctly
pungent, earthy flavor and fleshy texture.

In the matter of portabella versus portobello, both spellings are used. However, the Mushroom Council
has adopted the two "a" version to establish some consistency.

Chanterelles, cantharellus cibarius, grow in the wild in the Pacific
Northwest in forests with pine trees and deciduous trees. Their caps are
ruffled and shaped somewhat like cups with colors that vary from
yellow, pale orange, and brownish gray to pale ivory. They have a
unique peppery taste when eaten raw but lose this quality when cooked.
Their texture is slightly rubbery. Beware of chanterelles that have
become translucent. These are poisonous.




Truffles, tuber aestivum, are fungi that grow underground in wooded areas. They have never been
successfully cultivated and are even a challenge to forage in the wild. Dogs or pigs are specially trained
to recognize the scent of the truffle and are taken on gathering events to sniff them out. The shape of a
truffle is an irregular spheroid with a lumpy surface, often described as warty, the texture fleshy. Black
truffles from France, known as Perigord, are best known for flavoring pate de foie gras. White truffles
gathered in Alba, Italy, are highly valued as well. Both are priced well out of affordability for the
average person's budget. If you are fortunate enough to encounter the real thing, enjoy it raw, cooked,
and in the form of juice or extract.

Gathering in the Wild
Since many varieties of poisonous mushrooms closely resemble edible ones, it's best to fully acquaint
yourself before venturing out to gather. Even the common button mushroom has a poisonous cousin that
appears harmless.

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Of the many thousands of mushroom species existing today, only a few are known to possess a deadly
poison. Many, however, are capable of making one very ill.

Educate yourself by reading books on wild mushrooms. When you're a novice mushroom gatherer, take
an experienced teacher along until you become fully confident that you have the ability to positively
identify safe, edible varieties.

Cultivation
Mushrooms grow all over the globe with a concentration in the Northern hemisphere and fewer in the
Southern hemisphere.

Usually one type of mushroom will grow in a specific area and that area becomes known as a place to
harvest that species. Because mushroom spores are so tiny and light, it's easy for them to be carried by
winds and birds to locations not necessarily typical for that variety.

Some mushrooms, such as shiitake, have been grown for as long as two thousand years up to present
time on rotting logs. Others need a parasitic environment such as living trees to survive.

In the mid 1600's, Parisian melon farmers discovered that they could cultivate the common mushroom
known today as agaricus in their melon fields. Two hundred years later they learned that caves were the
ideal environment because the climate was stable. Louis XIV may have been France's earliest mushroom
grower. Today, mushrooms are grown in mushroom houses where the climate is completely controlled.

PREPARATION:
Mushrooms need not be peeled. They should be washed briefly under cool water and allowed a few
minutes to air dry. The true mushroom aficionados, however, merely wipe their mushrooms with a damp
cloth or use a mushroom brush with a wiping motion to clean them. Never soak mushrooms to clean
them. They are porous and will absorb water.

For some preparations you may want to use just the mushroom caps without the stems. To remove
stems, give them a gentle push with the thumb and they will loosen easily. As an alternative, give the
stems a twist. When they snap loose, simply lift them off the cap.

                                                            Some mushrooms spoil quickly while others have a longer
                                                            life span. Shiitake mushrooms will keep up to two weeks if
                                                            well refrigerated.




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The Mushroom Council provides some helpful information for planning servings. One pound of
portabellas with stems equal about 3 to 4 medium mushrooms about 4"in diameter, or 2 large caps about
6" in diameter.

Dried: Some mushrooms such as shiitakes are available in dried form. Drying seems to enhance and
intensify their flavor. If they are uncleaned, wash them thoroughly before soaking. Soak clean shiitakes
for 30 to 45 minutes in very warm water to cover or pour boiling water over them. Then using a sharp
knife or kitchen scissors, snip off and discard the tough stems.

Raw: White button mushrooms, criminis, enoki, portabellas, oyster, and shiitakes can be eaten raw.
They can be chopped, sliced, quartered, minced, or pureed. Use a food processor for preparing large
quantities or for pureeing.

Prepare mushrooms as a salad with sliced or diced onions, finely minced garlic, diced red bell pepper,
extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon or lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add sliced mushrooms to a fresh spinach salad along with raw pecans or walnuts, chopped scallions,
and finely diced fresh pears. Add balsamic vinaigrette and enjoy.

Combine sliced mushrooms with chopped snap peas, diced jicama, diced red bell pepper, and kernels cut
from fresh white corn. Add a pungent dressing and fill scooped out tomato halves. Garnish with fresh
herbs and serve as an attractive side dish.

Marinate mushrooms in equal parts of apple cider vinegar, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos, and
water for 2 hours. Drain and fill with seed cheese (a mixture of soaked and sprouted seeds, such as
sunflower seeds, combined with minced vegetables and seasonings).

Broiling or Grilling
Portabellas, either whole or sliced, and shiitakes left whole are exceptional when lightly brushed with
oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and broiled or grilled about 3" from the heat source for 3 to 5 minutes
on each side. Large portabellas need a full 5 minutes on each side. If desired, marinate in Bragg Liquid
Aminos or soy sauce, a little vinegar, minced garlic, minced ginger, and freshly ground black pepper for
about 1 hour before broiling.

If you use only the mushroom caps in a special dish, reserve the stems for adding to soups, stir fries, and
stuffings.

As a variation to oil basting, try using teriyaki sauce, your favorite pungent salad dressing, hoisin sauce,
or peanut sauce.

Grill kabobs by threading whole crimini or white mushrooms on a skewer with vegetables such as
zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, chunks of eggplant, colorful bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes.

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Brush with a tangy dressing and grill, turning skewers frequently, for about 10 to 12 minutes.

Serve the portabella as the centerpiece of the meal and add side dishes such as a grain dish, salad, and
steamed or stir-fried vegetables.

White or crimini mushrooms can be sliced and wrapped in aluminum foil (shiny side inside), drizzled
with extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper before grilling on the barbecue for about 7
to 10 minutes.

                            Sauteing
                            Using a large skillet or flat bottom wok, combine a half-pound of sliced
                            mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Cook over high heat,
stirring frequently, until all released mushroom liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Season to taste
and enjoy.

Oyster mushrooms should be very briefly sauteed,, about 1 to 1 minutes to best enjoy their delicate
flavor. They accept seasoning well and can make a tasty dish when cooked with onions and chopped
cashews. The stems become tough on very large oyster mushrooms and may have to be cut away.

Shiitakes need about 3 to 5 minutes of sauteing to bring out their pungent flavors.

Chanterelles are best started on medium heat with a little extra virgin olive oil to help them release their
liquid. The heat can then be turned up to saute them for 3 to 5 minutes.

If you plan to cook enoki mushrooms, drop them into the saute pan at the last minute and cook briefly, a
minute or two at most. Enokis become tough if overcooked.

As a low fat method of sauteing, use a seasoned vegetable broth or red or white wine instead of extra
virgin olive oil.

Create a side dish with sauteed mushrooms combined with nuts and diced vegetables of your choice.
Add a pungent dressing and toss to combine flavors.

Roasting
Slice or leave mushrooms whole. Toss about half-pound of mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin
olive oil. Spread mushrooms out on a large baking pan, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 400 for
about 15 to 20 minutes. Check frequently and baste with oil as needed. Portabellas develop a delectable
dense, meaty texture when roasted. Slice portabellas thick for a substantial serving. They tend to lose
much of their liquid during cooking.

Braising Morels require special attention. Be sure to wash them thoroughly to remove any insects that
may be imbedded in the crevices. It's best to saute them briefly in a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon

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juice. Then, cover the pan and simmer for as long as 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes for tenderness.

Nutrition
Depending on the variety, mushrooms contain 1 to 3% protein and all the essential amino acids, making
the protein complete. For vegetarians, mushrooms make an ideal meat substitute.

They also have many of the B vitamins. Most cultivated mushrooms contain vitamins C and K, and
some vitamin E.

Mushrooms are a rich source of potassium and phosphorous. About 5 raw button mushrooms contain
370 mg. of potassium and 104 mg. phosphorous.

Portabellas are an ideal food for those watching their waistlines. They contain no fat or sodium, are high
in fiber, and low in calories (40 calories for a medium size). Also noteworthy is that mushrooms are very
low in carbohydrates, making them ideal for diabetics

Chanterelles, with their appealing yellow coloring, are the only mushrooms that contain beta carotene
and vitamin D.


Here's a mushroom recipe that truly becomes the centerpiece of the meal. Its versatility makes it a
perfect filling for a pita sandwich or, if you prefer, use your favorite whole grain bread. We enjoy
it simply as a patty with Silken Magic Sauce and plenty of vegetables on the side.


MUSHROOM CASHEW WALNUT PATTIES

                         1/2 C. (118 ml) coarsely ground raw walnuts
                         1/2 C. (118 ml) coarsely ground raw cashews
                         2 C. (480 ml) cooked short grain or sweet brown rice
                         8 1/2 oz. (240 g) portabella mushrooms, finely chopped in the food processor

                         1 clove garlic, finely minced
                         1/4 t. pepper
                         1/2 t. salt
                         1 T. EnerG Egg Replacer
                         4 T. water

         2 T. organic canola oil

    1. Combine all ingredients except the canola oil together in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.

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    2. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over high heat until just hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle.
    3. Form mushroom mixture into patties and saute about 2 minutes on each side or until crisp. Makes
       about 12 small patties.

NOTE: You can enhance the presentation with a dollop of Silken Magic Sauce in the center of each
patty just before serving.

SILKEN MAGIC SAUCE
Here's a sauce that's the ultimate in versatility. Need a topping to dress up a savory dish or
steamed vegetables, a dip for crudites, a seasoned mayonnaise sandwich spread, or a garnish to
swirl into a soup? Make this sauce often and keep it on hand.

         1 12-oz. (340 g) package of soft or firm silken tofu
         3/4 t. salt
         1/2 t. onion powder
         1/2 t. ground coriander
         1/2 t. ground cumin
         1/8 t. garlic powder
         1 to 4 T. lemon juice to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Scrape down sides if
needed and process until completely blended. Refrigerate. Keeps for 1 week. Makes 1 1/2 cups (360 ml).

NOTE: For a firmer sauce, use the firm silken tofu. When serving this sauce at the table, garnish with a
sprinkle of dill weed and a dash of paprika.

For other mushroom recipes click on Recipe Index.


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