As I write I am easing my way through a portion of garlic mushrooms that I purchased from the chip shop around the corner.
They are not bad. The garlic makes them interesting and deflects from the blandness of the chips. The portion is generous and the diner is hungry.
It has got me thinking about mushrooms in general. As a child they were always an added extra to any meal from my point of view, and I feel it takes effort and creativity to transform them into a desirable dish in their own right.
My wife disagrees. She says she could eat mushrooms morning, noon and night. Whatever.
My generation was probably the first to take an interest in continental cuisine, but in some cases it was a slow process. I cannot have been the first nor the only person to have done a double take when seeing "funghi" (or "fungi") on the menu. For us Brits "fungus" was a thing that grew on trees, looked unsightly and indicated disease.
But in fact "funghi" is in most cases not only edible but also very nutritional. It comes in approximately 1.5 million different varieties, although 150 are poisonous so if picking them in the wild it can be useful to know which are which. A few are hallucinogenic, producing experiences not commonly associated with popular cuisine but also disorientation and nausea.
In pizzas they are one of the most popular ingredients, behind cheese and tomato. They can either supplement a dish based primarily upon other toppings, or form the main basis of the meal. They are versatile, easy to prepare and have for some a "meaty" taste despite being a popular vegetarian option (in fact mycoproteins which imitate the taste of meat in retail packaged products are made from mushrooms).
At Eco Restaurant Clapham Common one of the star items in our exciting range is indeed the Funghi pizza, with the best and most delicious (edible and non-hallucinogenic) mushrooms in olive oil infused with garlic and embedded in a traditional topping of tomato and mozzarella cheese.
Mushrooms also comprise an integral part of our La Dolce Vita and Quattro Stagioni options.
Why come and give them a try?