This pungent vegetable is the curious product of natural, moist forest growth and has been blamed and applauded for a myriad of medical and psychological experiences, through the ages. Are mushrooms really aphrodisiacs? Do they have hallucinogenic properties? Did Alice innocently fall down a rabbit hole or did our literary heroine indulge in a lunch of wild mushrooms that caused her to create fairy tale visions?
Ancient Egyptians believed that eating mushrooms produced immortality, at least according to 4600-year-old hieroglyphs. Their delicious, meaty flavor convinced pharaohs that mushrooms were, literally, foods from the gods and intended for royalty, only. Other civilizations in Russia, China, Greece and Mexico and Latin America routinely conducted “mushroom rituals”, hoping to gain super-human strength or to simply help people find lost objects.
Mushrooms are commonly used in classic Italian cuisine. Dried mushrooms can be stored longer and can easily substitute for fresh mushrooms in most recipes. Mushrooms mixed and jarred in oil can be stored for long periods of time, as well.