Mmmm… This is the Sulphur Shelf fungi (laetiporus suphureus), ready to eat, cleaned, sliced, spiced and fried. Also known as the Chicken Mushroom, for reasons obvious to anyone cooking and tasting them. So the old adage, “tastes like chicken” may often be meant facetiously, and has appeared in some off colour jokes I won’t mention here, but it this case it really really does.
And the sad thing is, when I found it, it was the most beautiful mushroom in the woods, all hot peach and sulphur yellow, growing in voluptuous layers across a fallen tree, surrounded by the yellow greens of early autumn. And what did I do? I screeched ‘ooh, ooh, ooh’ in excitement and hurried over tear off a few lobes for myself. While I wasn’t completely oblivious to it’s aesthetic appeal; I tore off lobes in such a way as to leave the bulk of the mushroom intact, a spot of beauty for other passersby to enjoy, but for some reason I was so overwhelmed by the possibility of eating this choice morsel that it never occurred to me to photograph it first. And this on the same day that I snapped the flag, and the windmill!
Have I learned to not let appetites get in the way of aesthetics? Probably not. Or should we learn to appreciate our appetites in a full and rounded fashion? Better yet, for there is something wonderful about finding food in the forest, and something more wonderful that this still can happen. A single feral apple, a have dozen wild berries can be a superior culinary treat to anything found in the store.
November 1st, 2009 Update!This is an elderly, and therefore not particularly edible, chicken mushroom still on the tree. Aged beyond edibility, but still splendid to look at; found in Eldred King Forest, York Regional Forest.
And now, a Work in Progress, just to keep the art theme going. The Rivers Edge WIP is sitting on my wall, so that I can digest and assess before I continue. On the left are my snaps of the chrome-footed bolete as found on the trail to Warp Bay, in Lake Superior Provincial Park. I never positively identified them, so I could be wrong, but I enjoyed them as visual treats as they were so rosy I was completely mesmerized by them. The artwork is coloured pencil on 8”x10” stonehenge paper; a rather conventional treatment (for me), but I did notice that while my usual swirly line-work is absent, it appears in the shapes and composition.