Mushrooms are a very unusual sort of vegetal. They actually are the fleshy, fruiting body of fungi. They have no leaves, or flowers, or roots. Mushrooms consist of pileus (the cap), bearing the sporee, stipe (the stem), volva (a cup-like structure at the base of the stem), annulus (the ring like structure sometimes found on the stem), lamellas (that sort of ribs under the cap), mycelium (a filamentous structure, under the soil). Mushrooms propagate thanks to the spores contained in the mycelium.
Many edible Mushrooms are cultivated, like Agaricus bisporus (the common champignon mushroom), used for salads, soups and many other dishes. But, also, many Asian Mushrooms, like Volvariella volvacea (straw mushroom), Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushroom), Lentinula edodes (shiitake) and all the mushrooms of Flammulina genus.
Many other species need to be hunted and picked in the wild, both for personal and commercial use. For example, field mushrooms (Agaricus campestris), the true morels (Morchella), chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius), Porcini mushrooms (Boletus edulis), and truffles too.
Mushrooms are a good source for vitamins and minerals, and have a low content of fats and carbohydrates and calories. Some species may be dangerous for humans and animals, causing from slight gastrointestinal issues to hallucination, to death. So, be very careful and mistrust unexpert gatherers.
Mushrooms are often used in haute cuisine or for typical recipes. They are perfect to make great first courses, side dishes or salads, or even to season meat and fish dishes. If you want one of the simplest and yet tastiest recipes, just slice them and cook in oil with garlic and parsley.
Some people also use to preserve Mushrooms with oil.
Fun Fact: because of the risks connected to their consumption (as regards poisonous or hallucinogen Mushrooms), and for their ability to come up from nothing, Mushrooms have always roused pople’s fantasy. Tht’a why they are part of so many legends and popular believes. For example, they use to say that Mushrooms growing in a circle are born from wwitches or gnomes dancing in the night. Aztec and Maya people used to consider hallucinogen Mushrooms as the flesh of gods. In ancient China, ku or chih mushroom was considered magic, a symbol of long life, someway connected to immortality.
You can also look at: