Mushroom

a hat, shaped like the fungus from which it takes its name, often worn by demure ladies.
A person or family suddenly raised to riches and eminence: an allusion to that fungus, which starts up in a night.
 Stewed Mushrooms

Cut off the ends of the stalks, and pare neatly some middle-sized or button mushrooms, and put them into a basin of water with the juice of a lemon as they are done. When all are prepared, take them from the water with the hands to avoid the sediment, and put them into a stewpan with a little fresh butter, white pepper, salt, and a little lemon juice; cover the pan close, and let them stew gently for twenty minutes or half an hour; then thicken the butter with a spoonful of flour, and add gradually sufficient cream, or cream and milk, to make the same about the thickness of good cream. Season the sauce to palate, adding a little pounded mace or grated nutmeg. Let the whole stew gently until the mushrooms are tender. Remove every particle of butter which may be floating on the top before serving. 


Houdini

Scalloped Mushrooms and Deviled Eggs

The Mushroom Dish

Choose for this purpose fine firm ones. Pick, wash, wipe and peel—then lay them in a deep pudding dish well buttered. Season them with pepper and salt, and add a little onion. Sprinkle each layer with rolled bread crumbs, dot with small pieces of butter and proceed in this way until dish is full, having the top layer of bread crumbs. Bake in a moderate oven.

The Eggs

Boil the eggs hard. Remove shells and cut eggs in half, slicing a bit off the ends to make them stand upright. Extract yolks and rub them to a smooth paste with melted butter, cayenne pepper, a touch of mustard and a dash of vinegar. Fill the hollowed whites with this and send to table upon a bed of chopped lettuce or water cress, seasoned with pepper, salt, vinegar and a little sugar.

 To Distinguish Mushrooms from Poisonous Fungi

  1. Sprinkle a little salt on the spongy part or gills of the sample to be tried. If they turn yellow, they are poisonous,—if black, they are wholesome. Allow the salt to act, before you decide on the question.
  1. False mushrooms have a warty cap, or else fragments of membrane, adhering to the upper surface, are heavy, and emerge from a vulva or bag; they grow in tufts or clusters in woods, on the stumps of trees, &c., whereas the true mushrooms grow in pastures.
  1. False mushrooms have an astringent, styptic, and disagreeable taste. When cut they turn blue. They are moist on the surface, and generally of a rose or orange colour.
  1. The gills of the true mushroom are of a pinky red, changing to a liver colour. The flesh is white. The stem is white, solid, and cylindrical.



 Indications of Wholesome Mushrooms

Whenever a fungus is pleasant, in flavour and odour, it may be considered wholesome; if, on the contrary, it have an offensive smell, a bitter, astringent, or styptic taste, or even if it leave an unpleasant flavour in the mouth, it should not be considered fit for food. The colour, figure, and texture of these vegetables do not afford any characters on which we can safely rely; yet it may be remarked that in colour the pure yellow, gold colour, bluish pale, dark or lustre brown, wine red, or the violet, belong to many that are eatable; whilst the pale or sulphur yellow, bright or blood-red, and the greenish belong to few but the poisonous. The safe kinds have most frequently a compact, brittle texture; the flesh is white; they grow more readily in open places, such as dry pastures and waste lands, than in places humid or shaded by wood. In general, those should be suspected which grow in caverns and subterranean passages, on animal matter undergoing putrefaction, as well as those whose flesh is soft or watery. 


Mushrooms, Toadstools, and Other Fungi.

Common Mushroom, Champignon,
Morell and Poisonous Fungi

The only kinds of Mushroom which can be eaten with safety are the common Mushroom (Agaricus campestris), the Champignon (Agaricus oreades), and the Morell (Marchella esculenta). Those which are of very bright colours, or have spots on the cap, those with thin caps, or those which are moist—have a film like a cobweb about the stalk, or have the stalk coming from one side of the cap—are poisonous.

Roy L. McCardell

“Eggs Mushroomette”

This is the queen of breakfast dishes and should be served, of course, with broiled ham, the king of breakfast dishes, hot buttered toast, and several cups of fresh-made, fragrant and just-strong-enough-to-bring-out-full-flavor, percolated coffee!

Recipe

Peel and slice a half pound of fresh mushrooms and cook in butter in old-fashioned frying pan till nearly done. The pan is now good and hot. Moderate the heat and put in three fresh eggs and fry them very slowly, constantly basting top of eggs with the hot butter the mushrooms have been cooking in. Cook well, slowly and thoroughly till all the mushrooms that attach are nestling in the white of the eggs like plums in a pudding. Serve, when thoroughly cooked, with the broiled ham, fresh coffee, and hot buttered toast.

This dish, as here described, is for one person only—as it is too good to be shared with anybody else.

P. S.—Eggs should never be fried so quickly that the whites are cooked to isinglass. Cook them slowly, surely, thoroughly and baste with hot mushroom butter as directed, and you will have Eggs Mushroomette and have eaten a poem!

Poisonous Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been long used in sauces and other culinary preparations; yet there are numerous instances on record of the deleterious effects of some species of these fungi, almost all of which are fraught with poison.[114] Pliny already exclaims against the luxury of his countrymen in this article, and wonders what extraordinary pleasure there can be in eating such dangerous food.[115]

But if the palate must be indulged with these treacherous luxuries, or, as Seneca calls them, "voluptuous poison,"[116] it is highly necessary that the mild eatable mushrooms, should be gathered by persons skilful enough to distinguish the good from the false, or poisonous, which is not always the case; nor are the characters which distinguish them strongly marked.

The following statement is published by Mr. Glen, surgeon, of Knightsbridge:

"A poor man, residing in Knightsbridge, took a walk in Hyde Park, with the intention of gathering some mushrooms. He collected a considerable number, and, after stewing them, began to eat them. He had finished the whole, with the exception of about six or eight, when, about eight or ten minutes from the commencement of his meal, he was suddenly seized with a dimness, or mist before his eyes, a giddiness of the head, with a general trembling and sudden loss of power;—so much so, that he nearly fell off the chair; to this succeeded loss of recollection: he forgot where he was, and all the circumstances of his case. This deprivation soon went off, and he so far rallied as to be able, though with difficulty, to get up, with the intention of going to Mr. Glen for assistance—a distance of about five hundred yards: he had not proceeded more than half way, when his memory again failed him; he lost his road, although previously well acquainted with it. He was met by a friend, who with difficulty learned his state, and conducted him to Mr. Glen's house. His countenance betrayed great anxiety: he reeled about, like a drunken man, and was greatly inclined to sleep; his pulse was low and feeble. Mr. Glen immediately gave him an emetic draught. The poison had so diminished the sensibility of the stomach, that vomiting did not take place for near twenty minutes, although another draught had been exhibited. During this interval his drowsiness increased to such a degree, that he was only kept awake by obliging him to walk round the room with assistance; he also, at this time, complained of distressing pains in the calves of his legs.—Full vomiting was at length produced. After the operation of the emetic, he expressed himself generally better, but still continued drowsy. In the evening Mr. Glen found him doing well."

The following case is recorded in the Medical Transactions, vol. ii.

"A middle-aged man having gathered what he called champignons, they were stewed, and eaten by himself and his wife; their child also, about four years old, ate a little of them, and the sippets of bread which were put into the liquor. Within five minutes after eating them, the man began to stare in an unusual manner, and was unable to shut his eyes. All objects appeared to him coloured with a variety of colours. He felt a palpitation in what he called his stomach; and was so giddy, that he could hardly stand. He seemed to himself swelled all over his body. He hardly knew what he did or said; and sometimes was unable to speak at all. These symptoms continued in a greater or less degree for twenty-four hours; after which, he felt little or no disorder. Soon after he perceived himself ill, one scruple of white vitriol was given him, and repeated two or three times, with which he vomited plentifully.

"The woman, aged thirty-nine, felt all the same symptoms, but in a higher degree. She totally lost her voice and her senses, and was either stupid, or so furious that it was necessary she should be held. The white vitriol was offered to her, of which she was capable of taking but very little; however, after four or five hours, she was much recovered: but she continued many days far from being well, and from enjoying her former health and strength. She frequently fainted for the first week after; and there was, during a month longer, an uneasy sense of heat and weight in her breast, stomach, and bowels, with great flatulence. Her head was, at first waking, much confused; and she often experienced palpitations, tremblings, and other hysteric affections, to all which she had ever before been a stranger.

"The child had some convulsive agitations of his arms, but was otherwise little affected. He was capable of taking half a scruple of ipecacuanha, with which he vomited, and was soon perfectly recovered."

MUSHROOM CATSUP.

The edible mushroom is the basis of the sauce called mushroom catsup; a great proportion of which is prepared by gardeners who grow the fungi. The mushrooms employed for preparing this sauce are generally those which are in a putrefactive state, and not having found a ready sale in the market; for no vegetable substance is liable to so rapid a spontaneous decomposition as mushrooms. In a few days after the fungus has been removed from the dung-bed on which it grows, it becomes the habitation of myriads of insects; and, if even the saleable mushroom be attentively examined, it will frequently be found to swarm with life.

FOOTNOTES:

[114]Fungi plerique veneno turgent. Linn. Amæn. Acad.

[115]Quæ voluptas tanta ancipitis cibi?—Plin. Nat. Hist. xxii. 23.

[116]Sen. Ep. 95.