To The Wonderland
I felt a little bit like Alice this past weekend in South England's New Forest as I was indoctrinated to the magical world of mushrooms. The moment I stepped foot into the forest, everything became unknown. There were peculiar-looking plants that I've never seen before, growing in odd places. I felt like I was transported into a fantasy land.
I was waiting for the white rabbit to show up and take me places. Instead, it was two brown dogs (Lola and Tom) and their knowledgeable owner, Peter, who took us on an adventure and taught us everything and anything we needed to know about mushroom picking.
I was transfixed by the experience. I wondered why I enjoyed it so much. After all, it's just picking plants off the ground.
Here are a few answers I had for myself.
- Foraging allows me to exercise my primal instinct. Something I believe is in all of us. This is probably the closest I've come to hunting for my own food.
- I become more acutely aware of my environment. Mushrooms hide in plain sight. They lie, literally, right under your nose. You really have to be mindful of every step.
- I learnt not to let looks deceive me. Beware, the pretty ones, like the gorgeous Fly Agaric., it can be deadly. I also learnt how to spot the real deal from the wanna-be. The difference between the real Chanterelle and the fake one is the gills . The real one has deep wrinkles/ridges that look like folds underneath their caps.
- Mushroom names are adorable. Every time I asked Peter for the name of the new found fungi, the answers gave me giggles. There were Penny bun, Hen of the wood, Horn of plenty or Trumpet of death, Hedgehog, Stinkhorn. And my favourite is Puffball.
- The forest is breathtaking. Walking for hours through these pretty scenes gives you a good body and eyes workout.
- Last but not least, wild mushrooms are simply delicious!
If you ever decide to go mushroom hunting, remember to forage sensibly. :)