08 January 2005

Where have all the mushrooms gone?

Just a quicky.

Once upon a time mushrooms could be bought at the market, by weight, sifted into a large paper bag. Going from fresh air to fresh air, they lasted, if they werent all eaten straight away.
Huge flat, solidly textured things they were, slow fried until they shrank, to maximise the flavour.

Then came button mushrooms and the difference was like comparing avocado to a roast dinner.
Plenty of texture, and thats about all, these white little balls were cheap to produce - and were foisted on us with a massive advertising campaign. "Make Room For the Mushrooms!" the song went, incessantly, and I doubt that few ever stopped to wonder why something akin to a government propaganda flick was being hammered at us night and day when the subject matter was fungi, with absolutely no nutritional value at all. The likes hadnt been seen since the British Lion mark on approved eggs in the sixties and every second advert procalimed that you should 'Go to work on an egg'.

They did a number on us, made unripe, underdeveloped, tasteless, pointless button mushrooms a fashion statement, and from that a staple.

So instead of just having mushrooms, we had a choice, real ones, or button ones.

Buttons won out, they are hardly called buttons anymore, but have adopted the generic name. Nowadays if you want a 'real' mushroom they come in cellophane packs with ridged plastic bases designed to display them at a jaunty angle (why??), are guaranteed to go slimy with condensation overnight if you break the seal but dont remove them all, are all carefully selected to be exactly the same size, have no length of stalk on them worth tweaking off and frying separately and are called, for some ungodly and unfathomable reason, 'breakfast mushrooms'. Oh yes, and because fewer and fewer mushroom farms can be bothered to let their stock grow to full size, taking up valuable space whilst they do so, the damn things cost a ton. Grrrrrrrr.


Anonymous said...

Spot on once again!

We're currently into Nigella Lawson's Hot Mushroom Sandwich: http://food.hubcom.net/cgi-win/recipe.exe?3$2$1$37$775 and highly recommend it with the wonderful big flat mushrooms and our variation is to use a bagel instead of ciabatta and then the stalk pokes through the hole. Hot, buttery, garlicky and mustardy with a little zing of lemon and parsley: it is gorgeous!

From me wot is not here! :)

puglet said...

I loves me brown criminis, which i think are baby portobellos.

I wanted to than you for the Doggles link you posted on my blog. I'm contemplating them for walks..he'd look silly, but they'd protect his ridiculously bulgy eyes.