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Goodbye Mouse, Hello Fungus!


Do you agree that one of the truly marvelous aspects of life is how much things can change from day to day? This characteristic has saved me on many occasions. For instance, Friday – a mess. But, Saturday and Sunday, were terrific. On Friday, I was disturbed, not just because of my loads of failed cooking and chores, but because our house was too messy for comfort. There had even been a mouse spotted in the kitchen! But come Saturday, one of my housemates had completely blitzed the place. It looked more welcoming and more clean than when we had first arrived to our program. And, the mouse was caught! (I had fetched a nice groundsman, with a thick Cork accent, who lured the mouse in with chocolate, of all things.)

This week, I feel like I have a fresh start. I get to work with one of my favorite ingredients… mushrooms! Darina keeps telling us to just keep thinking, “I’m going to eat this,” while we cook our food and that will help us improve. So, it’s a big help when you know you will actually want to eat what you are assigned to make. I’m cooking what looks like a simple-to-make, but tasty mushroom soup. When Rory demo-ed this soup, he kept making special mention of the changing look of it (“pretty revolting at this stage”, “looks like a pretty ugly mushroom puree,” dull-looking, watery, and not terribly inviting” to, finally… “not anemic in color” anymore.). He said it’s important to make note of when things look unappetizing, so you still know you are doing things right. The soup only includes button mushrooms, but we’ve had a chance to try a few others during our course, added here and there to other dishes we’ve sampled…

We’ve tried ceps (what we call porcino), and these yellow leg chanterelles:
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The mushroom lady who visited us (and who actually goes into the forest and forages as part of her income) brought us this puffball mushroom:

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Everyone was surprised by the flavor (breaded with herbs, and fried) because apparently these puffballs aren’t known for having much of it. The bigger they are, the less flavor they have. My devotion to mushrooms is part-texture, so I knew I would gobble up the puffball no problem. I get a real kick out of people being surprised by ingredients. I think maybe because it reminds me of people — unsung heroes or people with secret mega-potential. No one expected much out of ol’ puffball, but it really delivered!

It hasn’t been a good year for mushrooms in Ireland, so I’m including some more mushrooms from …. the Ferry Building in SF. I love that place…
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