September 5, 2009 3:39 PM

Edible Fungi

I'm taking PMB 113, California Mushrooms, this semester. I've been wanting to take this class since my fall semester Freshman year. It sounds pretty intense, but extremely interesting at the same time. The class is mainly focused on how to identify and collect different types of mushrooms. The professor is extremely enthusiastic, and I love how the class is really hands-on. The class includes lab every week and occasional field trips over the weekend. The only bad thing about it is that I really don't like the smell of mushrooms, so being in lab for three hours with mushrooms makes me a bit noxious.

On another note, I also detest eating mushrooms. Luckily, we don't have to eat mushrooms in this class. Anyways, I'm always raving about how amazing Cheeseboard Pizza is, so I asked my sister when she wanted to go. She chose yesterday to go to Cheeseboard because they were serving Cremini Mushroom Pizza. Unlike me, my sister loves mushrooms and usually takes all the mushrooms I don't want. I was going to be brave and trust that everything at Cheeseboard is good, including mushroom pizza, but in the end, I opted to eat a load of Kudos bars, instead. Oops.

For those of you who are interested, cremini mushrooms are also known as "baby Portebellos," the giant ones they make vegetarian burgers out of. The cremini and the portebello are also related to the grocery store button mushrooms. In fact, they're actually the same species, just at different stages of maturity. Their scientific name is Agaricus bisporus. Mushrooms in the genus Agaricus are usually edible (but don't quote me on that), while those in the genus Amanita are usually poisonous. You know that cute iconic red mushroom with the white polka dots? It's poisonous. Commonly known as the "fly agaric," this mushroom's scientific name is Amanita muscaria. Other poisonous Amanitas are the "Death Cap" and the "Destroying Angel". Too bad their names aren't written on them, right?

I can't wait to go mushroom hunting! I've been looking for some on my way to class, but I haven't seen any at all. I look around the base of trees for mycorrhizal fungi and up tree trunks for polypores. I'm pretty sure I looked vaguely lost and slightly crazy. I even tripped once while looking at a really tall tree.

Anyways, one of these weekends, I'm going to go to the Berkeley Marina and look for mushrooms there. I still find them fascinating, even though they taste disgusting. You guys should definitely take this class if you have the chance!

Victoria Eng | Permalink | Comment on this article | Comments (1)

Comments (1)

Look around the Chancellor's House/Tolman area. There are a bunch there...birds nest, Russula, Hohenbuhelia...and new ones keep popping up, so check constantly! And you should try Boletus edulis when you get the chance; you might just change your mind...

Posted by Irene | 2009-09-08

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