Magic Mushrooms

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of France  , Midi-Pyrénées,
Sunday, October 11, 2009

On the hunt for wild mushrooms.  A classic French activity is to scour the woods after an autumn night of rain and harvest he bounty of fungi that appears almost as if by magic.  Quite the site to see an old couple emerging from the woods heavy-laden with overflowing bags of mushrooms from their top-secret harvesting grounds. 

On the property is an area they call the ‘mushroom bank’.  Walking ever so slowly back and forth, stopping after every footstep looking around for any little leaf that may look a bit disturbed - like something has pushed it up from below.  Observing ever so carefully for these highly camouflaged beauties. 

Of course mushrooms are one of those items of food that you must be extremely careful of.  Many are poisonous, or dangerous for humans to eat, and they can be quite tricky to tell the difference.  Even the variety we were looking for has many types - some that are poisoness.  The type we are looking for are called ‘ceps’ they have a spongy underneath rather than gills. 

Quite a peaceful activity walking through the rustling leaves listening to the birds and the raindrops falling from the branches.  A peaceful venture yes, but a fruitful venture no.  I only found 2 of the mushrooms we wanted and both were small and rather old and maggoty.  The only type I seemed to find with any regularity were the fly agaric, or classic ‘magic mushroom;.  Not exactly what I wanted to cook up for lunch!

This mushroom has a long history.  The classic ‘toadstool’ look with a red top and white dots it’s very easy to spot.  I remember it from Smurfs and Super Mario Brothers. 

A Viking tribe called the Berserker’s would use these mushrooms before going into battle - for themselves as well as their horses.  It would make them feel powerful and invincible, albeit a little crazy - hence the word Berserk.

Also Medicine Men of certain tribes would use this drug to get their visions (as well as other things).  Being the Medicine Man, he was more powerful than others in the tribe and was able to withstand the negative effects.  When eaten, it has both good and bad poisons (good being used loosely here to mean the psychedelic effect).  Your body will naturally refine this drug after battling with the poison (as long as you don’t die first)  and excrete the ‘good’ drug in the urine.  So the Medicine Men would eat the mushrooms and then everyone else would drink his piss (how they figured this out I'm not sure).  This is also the way some people keep their high going for days upon days - I guess if you’re high you don’t really care so much about drinking pee. 

Supposedly if you dry the mushroom at a certain temperature for the right amount of time it gets rid of all the ‘bad’ poisons.  But I don’t think I’ll try it anytime soon as I am not a strong Viking Warrior, nor a powerful Medicine Man and I may not be able to live through the consequences. 

But I will persevere at searching for edible ‘shrooms‘.  I love the taste, and can’t wait to try some different ones!
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