In Which The Fungi Fight Back

It had been yet another idyllic ride on the Warburton Trail. Far from than being cold, wet and windy, our first ride of the winter had been another in the seemingly endless series of dry, warm and sunny forays. In fact, such were the balmy conditions that we even managed an extended section of pelotonic unity along the section to Launching Place. What an impressive sight it was to see so many people enjoying themselves in such an environmentally and socially friendly fashion.

Such was the high standard of the ride that I cannot think of a single event that happened to spoil the afternoon or to cast gloom on our cycling fun. Gael and Glenda were in especially high spirits because they had an extended agenda for the afternoon. For many weeks they had been keenly watching a prodigious eruption of mushrooms near Killara. Each week as they rode past they watched the mushrooms grow larger and larger. They even consulted our resident fungus expert Peter “Billy” Booth who assured them that they would all make great eating (even the large and rather potent looking bright orange ones).

On this first cycling day of winter they had come prepared for the mother of all harvests. As we rode past Killara we came across them loaded with large canvas bags, all ready to collect the limitless bounty that nature had so kindly provided for them. I could almost see the exotic recipes racing through their minds as they knelt down to start picking. I could only hope that Peter’s advice about them being perfectly edible was accurate.

Soon they were out of sight and our minds returned to the more important task of concentrating on the remaining climb that still lay ahead of us before reaching our cars back at Mt Evelyn. It was not until a couple of days later that the rest of their alarming but true story came to light.

Apparently they both went home with bulging bags and set to work at preparing the harvest for eating. It was at this point that their two stories diverged somewhat. Gael (who was wearing her glasses at the time) started to cut up her mushrooms but soon realised that all was not well in the world of Basidiomycotina. On the cutting bench in front of her she discovered to her horror that her precious mushrooms were alive with a thriving infestation of large wriggling white maggots. She quickly relegated all her crop to the darkness of the rubbish bin and felt relieved that she had not eaten any of them.

Only a short distance away in Belgrave Heights, Glenda, on the other hand, (NOT wearing her glasses) proceeded to peel, cut, slice, dice, spice and sauce her share of the fungal spoils with a naivety and innocence that could only come from her hair colour and her short sightedness. Soon the entire crop was cooked, divided into meal sized gourmet portions and carefully stacked away in her freezer. She was looking forward to being able to enjoy them throughout the coming days of winter and to share them with her closest friends.

When Gael found out what Glenda had been up to she was placed firmly on the horns of a dilemma – should she tell her about the maggots and spoil all the hard work she had done or should she just let her enjoy the meals (the maggots were probably quite harmless and would have dissolved in the cooking anyway) ? I will leave the reader in some suspense as to what happened next – why don’t you just ask the people concerned ?

PS. I think I will continue to get all our mushrooms from the supermarket in the future and if Glenda invites you for dinner it would be wise to call for a raincheck.