One day while describing the different flavors encountered with the various oyster mushroom varieties it occurred to me that it is like reading the back of a wine bottle. Therefore when discussing this topic with customers, we always preface our speech using that qualifier. For instance, when describing salmon oysters, I tell customers that it has a ham-like flavor. I elaborate by stating that it is not like chewing on a piece of ham steak. Rather, while masticating, one will try to match the flavor encountered to a previous dining experience and with the salmon oysters, ham is the closest match.
Bottom line, all of the mushrooms that I grow and sell would work well for about any culinary application of which one could dream, but for those looking to capitalize on the texture, flavor, shape, etc. that a particular mushroom could offer and/or to better be able to select a mushroom that would best compliment a dish, this article is for you.
Gourmet mushrooms are often used as a meat substitute – for example, Lion’s Mane can be used as a substitute for crab meat, Oyster Mushrooms can be a substitute for pork in a pulled BBQ sandwich, etc. Folks like to use mushrooms as a healthy alternative (Meatless Monday), due to ethical reasons (Vegetarian friendly) or due to food allergies (shellfish allergy). In these cases, it’s pretty impressive when someone can say the mushroom is “as good as” or “nearly as good as” the real thing.
However – I think I have found one case where the mushroom is BETTER than the real thing.
There are two types of people that approach my table at the local farmers market:
1) Those that love mushrooms and are eager to inspect, discuss, and purchase my wares
2) Those that are curious and walk by my booth as if those “flowers” or “seashells” might jump off of the table and bite them.
Sometimes patrons at the farmers market ask me if I am selling seashells or flowers. : )
Yes, many a time I have had people ask me if I was selling flowers or seashells. : ) The fellow fungiphiles need no indoctrination into the world of the incredible mushroom but I absolutely love, love, love bringing those that are wary in with a bit of friendly convo, only to convert them to my mushroom loving ways. See, it is not about the money (although I do love me some greenbacks…they pay the bills), but more about opening people’s eyes to the world of edible fungi (that is composed of more than the common white button, cremini, or portobello mushroom….all Agaricus species).