24 May 2015

Defying Zombies

Foraging for Mushrooms
If you would like to know where to find magic mushrooms, particularly in south Manchester, just give me a call.

The other evening, as the sun sank, and I sipped elderflower wine from a plastic cup, I found myself trapped in a conversation between young people discussing hallucinogenic mushrooms, from which I couldn't extricate myself without appearing impolite ... and square.

Wood chip, apparently. Magic mushrooms grow on the wood chip councils sling under shrubs in car parks. There, how cool am I?

This embarrassing, and yet educational, encounter came at the end of a guided forage walk in Fletcher Moss park.

In my increasing botany mania I found the walk very interesting. It is surprising how many plants are edible. Though that's not to say many are palatable. I think it is more a matter of being able to whisk up an impressive salad for your hipster friends, rather than being able to cook anything delicious. It is also reassuring to know, that come the apocalypse, when supermarkets are overrun by zombies, the local park could help keep starvation at bay.

The list of plants sampled included the old favourites of wild garlic and three cornered leek, but also ground elder and the flowers of oil seed rape. Basically you can nibble the young tops of seemingly any plant. They all more or less taste the same - bitter and peppery. The tendrils of vetch were different, tasting, not surprisingly, like pea shoots.

One of the more challenging plants we sampled was Japanese knotweed. If you strip off the outer skin of young stalks there is a gelatinous layer that is edible. Some people said it was like cucumber. I didn't, but ate it because of the zombies.

Huge amounts of mushrooms were picked, particularly Chicken of the Forest. I am not really interested in fungi - it's weeds that float my boat, so I was surprised how easy it was to find edible mushrooms once you've got your eye in.  At the end of the walk the leader (a slim, steely haired man in a bottle green jumper) cooked up the fungi with half a block of butter and some cream. Trusting to his expertise I shovelled some up with a crust of bread. It tasted .... of mushrooms, the kind you'd get in any Aldi store. And sadly I didn't turn temporarily into a zombie.

But, still, it was all together an enjoyable evening.

See the sweet man in the middle? He had bought this walk as a gift for his pregnant wife. Sensibly she refused to come.