« Loves are like mushrooms. We do not know if they belong to the good or the bad species until it is too late "
Tristan Bernard, French novelist
Fungi are multicellular or unicellular eukaryotic organisms. The term fungus has become ambiguous because it designates an obsolete taxon. This term encompasses both Fungi (or Mycota), Oomycota, Chytridiomycota and Mycetozoa. Their cells, provided with a chitinous or cellulosic wall, are immobile and feed by the absorption of organic molecules directly in the medium. The cell or cells are devoid of chlorophylls and / or plastids because these organisms are heterotrophic with respect to carbon. Their vegetative apparatus is a thallus: they are therefore thallophytes.
All true fungi belong to the group of Eumycetes and are distributed among Basidiomycetes, such as amanita or, for a few, among the Ascomycetes, like morels or truffles. The study of these fungi is mycology and those who practice it are mycologists. But there are also other groups that are commonly called “fungi” but which are not in the strict sense of the term, which are the oomycetes (genetically closer to brown algae) and the myxomycetes.
What is commonly called fungus is in fact only the temporary and visible "fructification", the sporophore (formerly called carpophore), of an organism with a more durable and more discreet character, the macromycete, whose usually filamentous structure constitutes the mycelium, whose isolated filaments are usually invisible to the naked eye. The sporophore often occurs in the form of a foot (the stipe) wearing a hat. Other silhouettes of sporophores are well known: in the form of small bushes like clavaries, tongues on the trunks of trees like fistulins, cups like pezizes, spheres like puffballs, etc.
A mushroom is a plant without leaves or flowers generally formed by a stem topped by a cap, with many species, edible or poisonous, and which grows quickly, especially in damp places. The fungus (or carpophore) comes from an underground mycelium developing on a moist nourishing support and rich in carbon (humus, root, wood). The nutritional value of mushrooms in protein is higher than that of leafy vegetables. They are very low in calories (for 100 grams of morels: 40 kJ; oyster mushrooms or veiled ponies: 45 kJ; chanterelles: 47 kJ; orongs: 58 kJ; armillaries: 63 kJ; Paris: 67 kJ; of rough boletus: 76 kJ; of porcini mushrooms; 85 kJ; of truffles: 115 kJ). Edible mushrooms (include cultivated species ("mushrooms" or "button", blue feet, lepiots, shiitakes) and many species known as "mushrooms". picking »(Boletus, oronges, mutton's foot, dead trumpets, chanterelles). Morels and truffles enjoy a very old and well-deserved gastronomic reputation.
Picking wild mushrooms is probably as old as picking berries. To collect mushrooms, it is essential to know them well, as some of them are fatal. If in doubt, they should be appraised by a mycologist or pharmacist. Picked or purchased, the mushrooms should be fresh, young, and not wormy. They must be prepared as quickly as possible, because, if the chanterelles and porcini mushrooms can be kept for two or three days in the fridge, the lepiots and coprins cannot be kept. Fungi are generally highly putrescible.
Mushroom preparation : To preserve all the aroma of picking mushrooms, they should not be washed or peeled. Wipe them with a damp cloth, then dry. Cut the feet when they are leathery, fibrous or wormy; otherwise, just remove the earthy base. The tubes are removed from the boletus when they are too spongy, and the lamellar varieties are trimmed when they are too ripe. If the mushrooms are very earthy, they are washed quickly, possibly in several waters (morels), but without ever letting them soak because it would lose a lot of their flavor.
Finally, they are only whitened exceptionally.
Culinary uses of mushrooms : Mushrooms are more tasty and delicate condiments than real vegetables, with the exception of porcini mushrooms, chanterelles and button mushrooms which can be a garnish or a dish on their own. Some mushrooms are eaten raw (oronges, coprins, cultivated mushrooms, frizzy sparassis); most are not edible until cooked. They are simmered over low heat and covered to make them reject liquid which can be used as a base for a soup. They are sautéed in oil (peanut, rapeseed, sunflower or olive preferably) or in butter. They are incorporated directly into a sauce or stew. Overcooked, they lose their flavor and harden. They are only salted at the end of cooking, and possibly seasoned with garlic, shallot and parsley, but in moderation, so as not to mask their often subtle flavor.
Preservation of mushrooms : Desiccation is suitable for species whose flesh is poorly hydrated (chanterelle, false mousseron, morel) and porcini mushrooms (hats cut into thin strips). The fleshy species can be jarred and sterilized, or frozen. Mushrooms keep equally well in oil, vinegar or brine. (They are found in cans, naturally, sometimes treated by pre-brining, but their taste is less good and often denatured.).
Mushroom flavor : The odor character of mushrooms is present in other foods, for example in certain cheeses with bloomy rind ou mouthful. It is due to the decomposition of linoleic acid under the action of microorganisms. The molecule responsible for this aroma is a well-known "alcohol" (in the chemical sense of the term), characteristic of the button mushroom, which contains a lot of it.