Mushrooms are the sort of thing that most people either like or really don’t like… I think it’s something about the texture, especially when they are cooked… although those who fall into the dislike camp sometimes don’t mind mushroom soup as long as there are no visible mushroom pieces. I was pretty omnivorous as a child and I would eat them, usually fried in butter and on toast, or sometimes in a chicken pie; my sister hated them and wouldn’t eat them at all… she did change when she was older. A cousin’s son used to love them when he was little, absolutely loved them, then suddenly inexplicably went off them… now he doesn’t mind them, but wouldn’t choose them.
We sometimes came across fields with mushrooms, once my mum came across a field full of them and she dashed about picking them and holding them in her skirt… after that she often dreamed of the field and running about after bigger and more beautiful specimens.
Mushrooms, toadstools and fungi are mysterious things and I don’t think I would trust myself to pick anything other than a field mushroom, or a horse mushroom as my dad called them. However, whenever I see fungi growing, I always wonder if perhaps this one or that one is edible.
Apparently fungi are not plants/vegetables, nor are they primitive animals… in fact they pre-date both in evolutionary terms. Unlike plants, fungi don’t have chlorophyll which plants need to convert the sun’s energy into food, so fungi have to rely on other plants and animals and they use enzymes to dissolve their food and apparently in a way they could be thought of as closer to animals than to plants.
Toadstools and mushrooms are the same thing, I guess we just call edible fungi mushrooms and non-edible or others, toadstools. They are just the fruiting part of the fungi, and they just rot away as any fruit might. However, underground there are fungal threads, which in some cases can ‘live’ for hundreds and even thousands of years.
Here’s a great site with loads of information, and photos: