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I will please you, my sister will torture you, who am I?

May 14, 2012

The delicious ‘parasol mushroom’ (Macrolepiota procera) grows wild at Dokmai Garden and in many other Chiang Mai gardens, but beware, the look-alike ‘green-spored parasol’ or ‘vomit mushroom’ (Chlorophyllum molybdites) may grow in the same lawn just a meter away. If you accidentally eat the wrong mushroom, you will vomit like never before and even experience bloody diarrhea. The gastrointestinal symptoms usually appear after 1-3 hours after consumption and may in rare cases cause death.

The Thai Seehamongkol family was most worried when they learnt I was about to fry a handsome parasol (tastes like veal). Their rule of thumb is “never eat a mushroom with a ring”. That is a good rule to avoid the vomit mushroom and the deadly Amanita mushrooms, but you will also miss culinary delights like the common white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) and the parasol mushroom. For an experienced mushroom picker it is not more difficult to separate the two than to separate a 1000 Baht bill from a 100 Baht bill, you just need to look closely in good light.

This is how you first see the vomit mushroom. Just a few broad, thin, brown scales on the cap is a sign of danger.

The mushroom cap of the vomit mushroom has greenish gills. If they are not greenish, you can still not be certain, because young vomit mushrooms have immature gills and they are still white. Green gills =vomit. White gills=question is still open.

The most important feature: the poisonous vomit mushroom has a stipe without brown scales.

The delicious parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) usually has many small, tufted, brownish scales on top of the hat, always white gills and most importantly a brown stipe with scales. When you cook it, discard the woody stipe and fry the cap in butter at low temperature. Serve on hot toast with butter, knife and fork and drink a cold white wine. Enjoying this seasonal treat is a moment of delight for any monsoon gardener in the mood of celebrating the onset of the rainy season.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

2 Comments leave one →
  1. harry permalink
    May 14, 2012 10:48 AM

    hi ket
    thanks for this imformative topic about mushrooms.. in new delhi i saw a dish
    ” tandoori mushrooms”.. a big mushroom
    barbequed in oven with pepermint green
    spicy sauce & onion rings.. i really liked it
    & quality of mushroom is good too..
    one dish pooja ( crab cake) in phuket has
    got black mushroom & they say it comes
    from china but actually it comes from
    north of thailand..i am really a big fan of mushrooms & i read it cures many diseases
    & very healthy..

    • May 14, 2012 11:27 AM

      Yes, the mushroom kingdom is the uncharted frontier.

      Of an estimated 1.5 million fungal species, we have only named some 75000, and hardly studied the biochemistry at all. A number of important medicines come from the fungal kingdom (e.g. cyclosporine for organ transplantation and plectasin a new antibitoic) and the journey has just begun. I strongly believe that Asia (China? India?) will lead these new discoveries, as the Anglosaxon scientific world dismiss the mushrooms as a cute appendix to the plant kingdom. There are five times more fungal species than plant species.


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