Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Consider the Oyster Mushroom

This is what I have managed to glean about the oyster mushroom in the past 48 hours: One, they're DELICIOUS. They're a shelf mushroom preferring to grow on maple trees and particularly old and feeble maple trees and usually too high up to be easily reached. That last bit might not actually be a preference of the oyster mushroom, but it seems often to be the fact of the matter. They might look within reach when you see them from the car, but when you get out and walk up to the tree, nine times out of ten (although I've only been car-shrooming for oysters once) you'll either have to attach your knife to a pole, and a long one, or you'll have to shimmy up the tree in order to reach the mushrooms. Or watch your intrepid boyfriend do the same. As the case may be. Other options include using a ladder or standing on top of your car. They're also kind of gross to clean, but remember point number one: they're DELICIOUS.
Guests often like to help out in the kitchen and there are many things they can do: wash lettuce; chop veg; assemble a salad, even; open wine; wash dish. If oyster mushrooms should be on the evening's menu and an enthusiastic guest offers to clean them, however, kindly ask him to make you another cocktail instead. It's not that oyster mushrooms are difficult to clean or even that they're so delicate as to require careful handling. No, it's just that they have developed a special relationship with a certain orange and black bug and when the mushrooms are bathed in salt water, which they should be, these bugs are forced out of their hosts and either float to the surface of the water or become lodged in the mushroom's gills, in which case a finger or a knife is required to permanently evict them from their home. A guest would, of course, be able to perform this duty, but after having done so, he may or (more likely) may not want to eat his dinner. So, please, clean your oyster mushrooms yourself and while so doing, if it helps or becomes necessary, remind yourself: they're DELICIOUS.
What makes them so DELICIOUS? Their inimitable mushroomy texture. Their earthy, woodsy flavor. Y. laughed when I said this, but I definitely detected a pleasant mollusk aroma when they were in the pan. Perhaps that is why they do so well sauteed with garlic and onion and simmered in white wine and when that's cooked down doused with heavy cream, cooked down again and served over pasta. Yes, oyster mushrooms are DELICIOUS.
NB: Please do not eat mushrooms you've gathered yourself unless you are absolutely sure they're what you think they are.


onewoman2020 said...

Once again, exquisitely beautiful food!!!

madelino said...

gorgeous! funny! thanks for the salt bath tip!