Saturday, 10 September 2022

6x6 (10. 122)

derivative art: online communities are rejecting AI-generated images 

compostable mushroom shroud: when Luke Perry passed away in 2019, he requested that his mortal remains leave no trace—only it didn’t work—via the morning news  

forms of address: the title culture of German—and the UK—via Marginal Revolution 

remember-tini: a Virginia country club is facing backlash for a planned 9/11-themed seafood Sunday brunch—via Super Punch    

temenos: every four years a screening of experimental filmmaker Gregory Markopoulos’ eighty-hour Eniaios is held in the Peloponnese that his magnum opus could spiritually cleanse our over-polluted media diets  

multi-level marketing: the online community bent on undermining crypto-scams and bitcoin pyramid schemes

Thursday, 2 June 2022

7x7

phillumeny: venerable Japanese matchbox manufacturer shuttering after almost a century 

fpoty: Pink Lady’s finalist gallery of superlative food photographs in its annual competition—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

posidonia australis: researchers determine that a giant patch of ribbon weed in Shark Bay Australia a

singular, ancient and expansive plant 

shadow gradient: expanding hole optical illusion is a touch trypophobic—via Boing Boing  

metamorphosis: late fifteenth century ecologist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian who was among the first naturalist to closely observe insects and understand their life cycles 

 casein chipping: more on cheese heists and ways to stop them 

 philately: a travelogue of postage stamps of imaginary places—see also

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

fungi seeks same

Being long-time enthusiasts about plant and mushroom networking and communication, we quite enjoyed learning of this very preliminary, new research that goes further, responsibly suggesting analogues between the chemical and electrical signals that funguses employ to coordinate among colonies or distant parts of themselves—previously also compared to neurons—and human language. Analysis and attempts at decoding these shared messages reveal that missives are dispatched in packets with a vocabulary of possibly up to fifty words that vary across different varieties of mushrooms with split gills being the most chatty and nuanced among the species sampled.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

fashion icon

Continuing a very fine tradition of celebrities dressed as a range of a certain thing, the always excellent Everlasting Blรถrt presents an extensive and growing thread of Lady Gaga as mushrooms. The paired gilled fungus is called the Pleurotus citrinopileatus (the Golden Oyster Mushroom or Tamogitake), edible and all-around useful, it is also being studied for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties which could be harnessed for future health applications.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

dyer’s polypore

Having seen the process of extracting dyes from our fungal friends before, via Things Magazine, we not only quite enjoyed perusing through this swath collection of colours derived from mushrooms in its own right but also appreciated the site as an important point of departure for cultivating a deeper appreciation for the mycorrhizal network that connects us all.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

atlas des champignons: comestibles, suspects et vรฉnรฉneux

Unsuccessful in our foraging this year (and usually coming up with the suspect varieties, if not outright poisonous ones), we appreciated pouring over the detail and descriptions from physician, botanist and accidental chronicler of the Haitian Revolution Michel ร‰tienne Descourtilz’ 1827 guide, lusciously illustrated with the lithographs of Auguste Cornillon. More from Public Domain Review at the link above.

Friday, 3 September 2021

fantastic fungi

We appreciated the documentary suggestion and preview from Open Culture that not only features chapters on the accrued benefits in biodiversity, innovation (dyes, building and packing material), culinary, mental wellbeing and spirituality and the arts that mushrooms and the fungal kingdom (see also) have to offer but also provides some interesting insights in how cinematically these developing fungal blooms are captured on film for study and curation. This will get us excited to do some foraging this weekend.  Much more to explore at the links above.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

robigalia

One of a number of Roman celebrated during this time of year to ensure a good growing season and bountiful harvest, the feast of the for the god Robigus was held on this day in the agricultural outskirts of the city.
The god, which was designated as the divine representation of fungal blight or rust needed to be propitiated in order to ensure that the crops wouldn’t spoil in the fields. Understood as a separate, corrupt manifestation of the same infestation that could be harnessed for fermentation, the games held at this time with their attendant feasts (see also) were also marked by rather dark sacrifices that expressed their anxieties over crop failure—especially for one this late in the growing seasons that wouldn’t be easy to recover from. Whereas animal sacrifice generally was reserved for livestock that was part of the Roman diet and was shared in a communal meal, Robigalia rather gruesomely demanded a dog with a red coat—that matched the rust disease—as form of homeopathic magic.
Other observations included a celebration of—for whatever reason—of male sex-workers, professional female prostitution having had their own honours in the previous days, specifically on Vinalia urbana, the grape harvest on 23 April. Though without the cruel bits, thankfully—or the fun bits either, I suppose, the holiday is preserved in Western Christianity with the same day of prayer and fasting known as Rogation (from the Latin to beseech—to ask God for protection from calamity) and was done to cleanse the body and mind in anticipation of the Ascension and farmers often had priests bless their crops, often holding mass and processionals in the fields.

Monday, 1 March 2021

pflanzenwissenschaft

Active at a pivotal time that marked the transition in field of nature studies from hobbyists to professionals and one of the first to adopt the classification system of Carl Linnaeus in the German-speaking community, Catharina Helena Dรถrrien was born this day in 1717 (†1795). A talented painter, Dรถrrien researched and catalogued native plants and fungi of the Principality of Orange-Nassau with over fourteen hundred watercolour botanical illustrations and many of her works are in the collections of the Wiesbaden Museum.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

gastrodia agnicellus

Via ibidem, researchers at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew have released their top ten plant and fungal species new to science (see previously) of the some one-hundred fifty discovered this year, including what’s been dubbed the world’s ugliest orchid—found in the forests of Madagascar. Reliant on a symbiotic relationship with a particular fungus for energy—having no leaves or roots—emerges from a woolly stem only to flower and produce seed-bearing fruit.  An addition to the family commonly called ‘potato orchids’ and despite its unflattering, vaguely xenomorph chestburster appearance, its scent is reportedly a rather pleasant citrus one.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

pilzfund

H and I wandered a bit in the woods foraging for mushrooms, and while we didn’t really encounter anything that we were reasonably certain was edible and warranted collecting and later research, we found that the forest was ripening with all sorts of fungi, including Wood’s Ear (Auricularia auricula-judaesee previously and which we forgot again was safe for consumption and is widely used in China—I just don’t know about the texture and the prospect of picking one up) that was pretty widespread along the path and some more nice examples of fly agaric (Amanita muscaria, Fliegenpilz, see above). 

A new variety that we had not encountered beforehand, however, were these colourful ones in the same family—sometimes referred to “verdigris agaric” called blue roundhead (Stropharia caerulea, der Grรผnblaue Trรคuschling)—the specific epithet caerulea being Latin for blue while for contemporary speakers it generally indicates a shade between azure and teal. Host trees are usually beeches (Buchen) and thrive in alkaline soils.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

7x7

blood pudding: British public reject Magnus Pike’s (see previously) modest proposal as taboo  

urban jungle: artist employs banana fibre cocoons for the Milan of our over-heated future  

a fungus among us: Public Domain Review explores fungi, folklore and fairyland

object lesson: a 1937 experiment with remote learning to contain a polio outbreak 

those speedy clouds: Alvin and the Chipmunks cover Phil Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi—see previously  

maybe i’m immune: James Corden performs a soulful parody of the Paul McCartney ballad 

 the cask of amontillado: Spanish navy upholding tradition of ageing wine at sea, transporting a buttload of sherry around the world

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

palm house and parterre or bulletin of miscellaneous information

Underpinning nearly all life on Earth and comprising a majority of the planet’s biomass, the kingdoms of plants and fungi are constantly yielding up new discoveries that we must cherish and preserve as best we can, for their own sake and to mediate on the strange and novel adaptations and chemical magic that Nature has developed, some habitats lost before we could fully appreciate or even identify what sorts of treasures we’ve destroyed. Curators at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew have selected ten superlative finds out of the some one hundred and nine newly, officially recognised species all across the globe to highlight this wonderful and surprising realm, including a berry that has the effect on the human palette of turning sour tastes to sweet (Synsepalum Chimanimani) and a tenacious shrub confined to a single waterfall that produces its own adhesive to stick to rocks and prevent it from being swept away.

Friday, 1 November 2019

pilzfund ii

Having had less success up until this point and a bit envious of neighbours who return after foraging with mushrooms by the crateload, H and I went exploring in the forest again and had some fortune gathering some edible specimens.
Careful to collect discriminately and not spoil the woodland ecology (responsible, surgical removal affords the chance for the fruiting body to regrow) and more careful research so as not to end up poisoning ourselves, we were able to identify, along with the usual fare, Goldrรถhrling (Suillus grevillea, the larch bolete—for the root of the tree it is often found), Steinpilze (previously) and Birkenpilze (Leccinum sabrum, the birch bolete) mostly.
Though by no means is this rule-of-thumb universal or not without exceptions but broadly, mushrooms with stalks and a spongy, porous underside of its cap, called boletes, literally from the Latin for edible mushroom—as opposed to gills underneath—can signify that it is safe for human consumption.  Please, however, consult the experts before trying to harvest wild mushrooms and know how to contact poison-control, just in case.

We were pretty selective and not more adventurous than is advisable and once H sautรฉed the mushrooms, that bucket reduced down to a small but very flavourful portion.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

lion’s tooth

To discourage the agricultural practises that hold our environment in disdain the most—production of those staples for consumption in the West whose distribution network is so well established and seemingly seamless, that we as consumers can easily be blind to the human and ecological toll it exacts, a UK designer is developing a coffee substitute brewed from the roots of dandelions (previously here and here).
I’m a little skeptical and prepared for disappointment, inulin, the researcher’s target compound for extraction, we’re already familiar with in the form of chicory and camp coffee but the chemistry bears out and the roots do contain what’s metabolised as caffeine (my target compound) as well and would be willing to give it a try. It makes me wonder too how estranged in the first place might my beverage and its taste and aroma be already, encapsulated and shuttled through an inscrutable supply-chain estranged from the bean I associate with. The designer has additional, circular aspirations for composting the spent grains into a medium for home mushroom cultivation.

Monday, 14 October 2019

gemeine stinkmorchel

Just honoured by the German Mycological Association (Deutsche Gesllschaft fรผr Mykologie, DGfM) as mushroom of the upcoming year, we were a bit excited to share a few prime specimens in the middle stages of development of the common stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus—that is, immodest and at least a relative thereof), widely recognised by dent of its signature carrion-like odour that attracts insects to spread the spores and its distinctive shape. Not pictured is its first egg-like stage (the immature ones are prized for their culinary value and supposed aphrodisiac qualities), but later growth with the stalk forming and an olive-coloured fruiting body known as the gleba. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to work out the sort of folktales sprouted up around these toadstools.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

pilzfund

H and I went foraging for mushrooms recently and though we’re not averaging a good return on edible specimens from the field, we are getting exposed to quite the menagerie of woodland types of fungi during our scavenging.

 
Among the diverse exemplars that we find along the trail just metres from one another we encountered the poisonous and hallucinogenic fly agaric toadstool (Fliegenpilz, Amanita muscaria) quite often, others yet unidentified and works of art in their mystery, and another quavering discovery called a wood ear or a jelly ear (Judasohr, Auricularia auricular-judรฆ, so called from the traditional narrative that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an elder, the sambucus, Holunder tree and these mushrooms often appear at the base of such trees to remind the faithful of this act of betrayal).
For all of its rather Lynchian baggage, the wood ear is very much edible—if not a bit bland unseasoned, and is a staple for umami flavourant in Asian cuisine. Please click on the images for more detail.  The pharmacological merit of the fungus is currently being studied, research suggesting that its palliative use in folk medicine was not far off.

Friday, 20 September 2019

a fungus among us

Though tasking an artificial intelligence to name any thing can elicit some rather choice and bizarre monikers, it becomes doubly strange when training on classes of things which already have been given a rather off-kilter and proprietary form of nomenclature—especially to be found among cultivated foods (see previously)—with mushrooms, wild and domestic, being no exception—reflecting our own odd descriptors back to us.
Pictured is—found in the woods, I think (do not use this site as a guide to adjudicate anything fit for human consumption)—boletus edulis, otherwise known as a porcino, hog mushroom, Steinpilz, stone mushroom, Herrenpilz, a noble one, cep (French—for its fat stalk) and in English penny bun. While not poisonous, it is easy to mistake for its inedible—by dint of extreme bitterness—cousin, boletus badius. A few of our algorithmically-generated favourites included Sapient Ink, Wizard Flange, Grizzly-Faced Duckytoot and Smiley Facecap. Be sure to visit AI Weirdness at the links above for some more automated taxonomy and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a post.

Monday, 13 May 2019

nugrybauti

It’s funny how we fail sometimes to appreciate the idioms of our own language until we see them obsessed over by outsiders, like discovering a new cuisine or particular vintage—and we were visited by one such example (courtesy the always excellent Nag on the Lake) in the title term, which in Lithuanian means going astray whilst hunting for mushrooms (grybavimas).
Apparently a common enough occurrence to merit its own word—though the Lithuanian language affords such poetic licence—it also means figuratively losing the thread of a conversation or going off on a tangent. The recollection cited brings the word to life, but my search for more information was necessarily limited by my lack of insight into the language—but apparently by dint of its frequency in automotive advertising copy, it can also connote “off-roading.”

Sunday, 30 September 2018

mycoremediation

Yesterday H prepared a fantastic mushroom and pasta dish with what’s called Kräterseitlingen (Pleurotus eryngii, le trumpet royale—elevate your minds!) as the main ingredient—the one in the background, not the psychotropic fly agaric in the foreground—and it turned out to be uniquely flavourful and relatively simple to make.

To serve four, one needs:
250 grams (9 ounces) of band noodles (fresh or dry)
250 grams (9 ounces, three large mushrooms) of King Trumpet mushrooms or substitute button mushrooms or chanterelles (Pfifferlinge)
2 teaspoons of butter
1 container of Crรจme Chantilly (unsweetened whipped cream, Schlagsahne) for texture
1 tablespoon of vegetable broth
A sprig of parsley
A clove of garlic
A large leek (Lauch) or onion
Salt and pepper to season

Begin preparing the pasta according to the instructions, boiling it in slightly salted water. Meanwhile dice the leek, garlic and mushroom, finely chopping the parsley. Braise the garlic and leek slices in a frying pan in the butter until the leeks turn glassy. Introduce the mushrooms and turn until lightly brown. Mix in the crรจme and broth and top with parsley over the pasta.