EDIBLE WILD MUSHROOMS

  

Amanites or Manites and Hadiarofouskes known as the 'truffle' of the south-eastern Mediterranean. All are a kind of wild mushroom, slate grey in colour with a big and flat surface, Amanites or Manites can be found in profusion in Hania in the market place and vegetable stores around the region. Whilst the Hadiarofouskes come from the mountain regions of Lefka Ori.

  

In ancient Greece they loved wild mushrooms and held an extensive knowledge, in particular the hunters and many of the older villagers. In the poorer rural communities mushrooms were eaten as meat. Most were especially appreciative of them and came to rely on wild edible mushrooms, when meat was in short supply. They are of course an excellent source of high quality vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Also being low in sodium, and the best thing of all is that they taste good and are low in calories.

 

In Ancient and Byzantine times edible mushrooms were consumed in high quantities, albeit even some of the most knowledgeable gatherers and foragers occasionally misidentified some species. Although incidents of death were rarely mentioned in literary sources. The emphasis was however, placed on the antidotes in case of consuming poisonous mushrooms. So possibly the reason deaths were not mentioned in great numbers was simply because, if anyone became or felt ill they immediately consumed some of the most disgusting drinks, which in my opinion would have immediately made you sick, therefore removing any dangerous toxins -radish pulp, cabbage pulp, and a drink made from honey, warm water and saltpetre which is primarily used in gunpowder! 

 

Man & dog working together to find truffles


Certain mushrooms were mentioned in the works of Hippocrates in the 5th century B.C. and Galen 130 - 200 A.D. showing that these ancients doctors were familiar with their therapeutic qualities. It is not then surprising that they were also interested in their cultivation. Dioscorides the Greek physician in 55 A.D. wrote:

  

'Some report that the bark of the white and of the black poplar, cut up into small pieces and strewn on garden-plots that were previously fertilized with manure, grows mushrooms in all seasons'. 

 

The ancient Greeks called it 'hydra' or plural 'hydnon', from which derives 'hydnology', the science which studies truffles, you will find the more common word used is 'Ydnon'. The black truffle, has been in the luxury category of foods since the 5th century B.C. This truffle was so sought after that non Athenians received the rights of citizenship in return for a dish of truffles.
 

Truffles have always had that reputation and they were consumed more for its alleged aphrodisiac virtues than for its culinary qualities. Galen, Greek physician, recommended the truffle 'to produce a general excitement that predisposes voluptuousness'. Truffles are fungi that live underground associated with the roots of some trees, mostly oaks. Although more than 20 species of truffles are known in Europe, only a few have culinary value. 

 
Truffles spend their entire lives under the ground and must be eaten by an animal to reproduce by dispersing the spores that are formed inside the truffle. Especially mammals, mice and squirrels are the original truffle gourmets, attracted by the truffles strong aroma. Truffles are valuable because they are very rare and hard to find. It is estimated that the demand is 10 times greater than the supply.
    

GRILLED AMANITES WITH OREGANO & LEMON

    

Clean amanites and wash them well. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, salt pepper and oregano together. Put the mushrooms in a large baking pan coating them well with the mixture. Grill or gently fry them for 20 mins. Or barbecue the coated mushrooms brushing the mixture as you cook. They taste much better this way.

  
 
  
 
 

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