My good friend Brian recently posted some spectacular photos on Facebook of him and his friend foraging for mushrooms in West Marin.
I was titillated by the imagery, and instantly jealous of their confidence and know-how.
When I spoke to Brian about the experience several days later, I was in the car with the kids and he was on speakerphone. We got the quick download on how to safely forage for mushrooms - the quick bit I took away is that all toxic mushrooms have white gills. This information stuck with the kids too, as they've mentioned it several times since.
So imagine my excitement today when I stumbled upon this mound of mushrooms while delivering leftover crab and half-eaten chocolate cake slices to the girls in the coop.
Woo-hoo, I thought. Let's make backyard mushroom risotto! Let's do a little research...
Now let me first say that I would NEVER eat a mushroom I just found. I know nothing about this stuff (except that when done wrong, you can die) and am too willy-nilly to even think of going there. I think it is as cool as all get out to know such stuff, but I don't. Still, I thought it would be fun to do a little online checking.
When I showed the 7 year old the underside of the mushrooms (read: white gills), he started to hyperventilate. I'm glad he was paying attention.
It turns out that that beautiful cluster of fungi out back is "the world's most dangerous mushroom."
From what I can tell, I'm thinking these are Death Cap mushrooms! They are very common here in the Bay area, often found this time of year at the base of oak and cork trees. Right now, they are growing right where an oak fell last year.
We will dig them up in the morning and dispose of them properly. But in the meantime, I've got to wonder why the heck am I so special that I get a bunch of these in my backyard? Geez...