Cooking with a Fun Guy
I don’t recall the exact date, but I do remember the first time I tried mushrooms. Growing up my mother liked mushrooms and my father did not. My father is a very logical man and the concept of eating fungus did not computer for him. It makes sense if you stop to think about it. Fortunately when you are a hungry growing boy thinking rarely comes into it. We ate the occasional steak in our household and it was usually served with some baked potatoes and peas. Can’t go wrong with a classic. Then one day my mom decided to make some sautéed mushrooms to have on the side. I think my dad was out of town or something. She used just plain button mushrooms and cooked them in butter and possibly garlic. Either way they smelled great and I decided I would try some. I was an instant fungus convert. Honestly I think my mom was disappointed because it meant she had to share them with me. On the plus side it did give her the excuse to cook them for future meals as well.
The whole cooking thing is relatively new for me, but I have made that exact meal many times in my life and in college I can recall being the only one to pile garlic and butter drenched mushrooms on my steak. [I roomed with a cattle rancher’s son my senior year so, yes, I ate steak in college.] My enjoyment of mushrooms is not limited to a side/condiment for steak. I also eat them on my pizza and as a deep-fried appetizer. Early on in our marriage I altered a recipe that my wife grew up with by adding mushrooms. When you are newly weds you eat a lot of pasta and one of the dishes she introduced me to was Tuna Spaghetti. The recipe is simple, you cook a can of tuna fish in a stick of butter and as much garlic as you can handle. Then you poor the tuna butter mash over spaghetti noodles. To me it made perfect sense to add mushrooms because that was one of the few things I knew how to cook and I made them the same way – a stick of butter and as much garlic as I liked. We don’t always add the mushrooms to this recipe because some teenagers in the family don’t appreciate it, but I will occasionally forget this fact and add them anyway.
Until now I’ve ignored those other mushroom sitting next to the white buttons, but thanks to the Mike Mitch project I have used shiitake, Portobello, and the magnificent morel mushrooms. There are volumes of information available about mushrooms and the history of eating and cultivating them. I’m not sure my interest goes that deep, I just know they taste good.
Damn Good Reason to Eat Mushrooms: Really, they are just a vehicle for the butter.