We've been growing mushrooms inside the Mediamatic Bank for almost a week now, but on Wednesday we ventured into the wild Dutch forests to search for and learn everything we could about the diverse variety of mushrooms growing in the forest. We all met Mark Janssen, our fungal expert of the day, at the train station and after a short introduction about how to properly pick mushrooms (cut them, don't pluck them), we made our way into the woods with our wicker baskets in tow.
The biggest fear that people have about picking wild mushrooms in the forest is that they'll accidentally eat a poisonous one. This fear can be overcome by taking a few precautions and brushing up on your mycological knowledge. The majority of mushrooms in the forest will not kill you, but if you are unsure about a certain mushroom it is best to stay away. As people found new and different varieties of mushrooms, Mark helped us identify them and figure out if they were edible or not. Some mushrooms aren't poisonous, but they aren't very tasty either. When you first start foraging for wild mushrooms, it's best to take a seasoned mushroom hunter with you until you learn the ropes...but in no time you'll be spotting the tastiest mushrooms. Even the most amateur hunters among us left the excursion with their baskets and bags filled with tasty treats.
We also found some very strange and interesting varieties of mushrooms, including the 'witches egg' mushroom with the stinkhorn attached to it, puffball mushrooms that explode spores when you step on them, and the illusive sponge mushroom which grows on the base of trees. As we were heading back to the train station, one of the participants found one of the most poisonous mushrooms in the forest! Seemingly harmless, with its thin white stem and top, this mushroom can kill you within ten days of ingesting it. This is the mushroom that King Claudius was poisoned with.
After a long day in the woods, we headed back to Mediamatic, where Mark and Tinda cooked up a delicious three-course mushroom dinner for all the participants. Everyone got a little taste of the fruits of their labour, and it was definitely delicious!
Mark Janssen in his Ignite talk mentioned that some countries are mycophilic and some countries are mycophobic. The Netherlands definitely made it to the mycophobic list, but together we can turn that around! Learn how to grow your own mushrooms, hunt for edible mushrooms in the woods, and cook delicious meals with them all.