The love of mushrooms unites mankind – almost – all over the world. Only in the polar regions does it look sparse. In all other regions, people did not and do not miss the nutritious and delicious sponges. This was even true for Stone Age people, who also ate mushrooms.
Tablets from Iran dating from around 1800 BC. originated indicate that people have long been able to distinguish between edible and poisonous mushrooms. The ancient Romans were avid mushroom eaters. They even had a special pot, the boletaria, in which to stew the mushrooms called boletus. The porcini mushroom, Boletus edulis, still bears this old Roman name as a scientific name.
The number of French mushroom recipes is hardly inferior. Each province has its own way of preparing it. In Bayonne, for example, raw ham accompanies button and oyster mushrooms, in Normandy they are enhanced with a dash of Calvados and in Provence they are served in a sauce of wine, parsley and garlic.
Gribui is one of the Russian mushroom dishes in which mushrooms are prepared with fennel greens and sour cream. Buckwheat groats are also often served with stewed mushrooms and sour cream. In Poland, Hungary and Scandinavia, mushrooms and sour cream also belong together. The almost fat-free mushrooms and the milk fat complement each other to create a high-calorie meal that provides the necessary energy for hard work and cold weather.
In England and English-speaking countries, braised mushrooms are often served for breakfast. As a good start to the day, they provide the body with important minerals, vitamins, polysaccharides and many other healthy ingredients. But even the main dishes such as lamb pie or the famous steak and kidney pudding only get their full flavor when mushrooms are added.
Wild rice with mushrooms has a long tradition in Canada. The natives may have already eaten it, because we know that the North American Indians collected mushrooms in the fall, ate them directly, but also dried them for the winter.
Mushrooms are also eaten in the Arab world and in Africa. The mighty African Omajova mushrooms, which live in close association with termites and push their fruiting bodies out of the hills during the rainy season, are in great demand.
Far Eastern cuisine probably has the closest connection to mushrooms. It is hard to imagine without mushrooms. Chinese morels, Judas ears, rattle sponges and above all the shiitake mushroom are among the “vegetable jewels”.
The shiitake mushroom in particular is not only valued as a delicious food, its health effects have also long been considered. Because it not only strengthens the immune system, but also lowers high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
It also helps with complaints caused by osteoporosis and rheumatism. Above all, thanks to the polysaccharide lentinan, it has a powerful anti-cancer effect. Since it used to be rare and highly sought after, attempts were made to breed it early on. This was achieved around the year 1000 AD. The Shiitake is therefore the oldest cultivated mushroom. With us, it began its triumphal procession many years ago.