There is only one kind of mushroom that the British will ever dare to eat, and there are even fewer when it comes to toadstools. A pity this, as the Continentals are much braver than us about eating wild fungi. They die a lot because of it, of course, but you can’t have everything.
HERE ARE TEN BASIC TYPES.
THE TINY CONTINENTAL DELICACY
This grows in small tins on shelves in delicatessen shops and can be easily spotted through its great expense. It usually likes to grow in the company of palm kernels, crab soup and discontinued lines of Hungarian salad. Instructions for use: read label carefully, glance at price tag and replace on shelf.
THE BUTTON MUSHROOM
This tasteless little fellow, so familiar to us from greengrocers’ shops, does not occur in nature. Under EEC regulations, in any case, it will have to be totally replaced by 1987 by the officially- approved Grey delicious. This does not occur in nature either.
THE DAWN PLUCKED, DEWY FRESH, MEADOW MUSHROOM
The mushroom we all know and love so much. It is very easy to identify, as it grows in dewy fresh meadows and has already been dawn plucked by someone else by the time you get there.
THE TELEGRAPH POLE TOADSTOOL
A large grey fungus, the same size and shape as a long-playing record, which grows forty feet above the ground at the top of dead trees. It is very dangerous; one is enough to cause a broken leg.
THE BRIGHT YELLOW, HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS-LOOKING FUNGUS
One of the most common of all fungi, this sensational-looking glossy monster is highly prized, though nobody is quite sure where. If you should be lucky enough to find one, take it home and cook, then give it to a relative to try.
The cheap, paperback version of the previous.
THE ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL MUSHROOM
Easily identifiable from its large dome. When sliced into thin strips and fired in olive oil with a little marjoram and garlic, it tastes just like veal escalope provençal. It is deadly poisonous
THE COMMON SHAGPILE CARPET MUSHROOM
This small brown mushroom is found covering the floor of small woods in early autumn. Its drab nondescript appearance makes it one of the least decorative of all fungi; it is, on the other hand, very easy to clean and a brisk going-over with a damp cloth once a fortnight is all that is needed – no need for a vacuum cleaner.
It is perfectly edible; sliced and stewed with a little butter, and a sprinkling of nutmeg or mace, it tastes exactly like little pieces of shagpile carpet sliced and stewed with a little butter.
THE SMALL RED-SPOTTED FAIRYTALE TOADSTOOL
These attractive little fungi grow in the more desirable parts of upper-middle class woods in the Home Counties. They have a tiny door in the stalk, two or more miniature windows upstairs and would suit a couple of gnomes without children on a short let. For further details apply to Potter, Rackham and Uttley, estate agents of Guildford and Dorking, also Mayfair. Absolutely no callers at fungus without an appointment.
THE HOME- ROLLED SLIM PANATELLA MUSHROOM
The legendary mushroom which gives the user powerful hallucinatory visions. It is illegal for this book to describe it, but it is commonly found in most Customs and Excise handbooks. Dried, rolled and smoke, it provides you with the answers to all mankind’s problems. Unfortunately, like all universal solutions it has most unpleasant after-effects.