Magazine article The New Yorker

Mycological Positivism

Magazine article The New Yorker

Mycological Positivism

Article excerpt

Nicholas P. Money is wild about mushrooms. "I count myself among the few humans who love fungi, truly, madly, deeply," he writes in MR. BLOOMFIELD'S ORCHARD (Oxford), a companionable foray into the realm of stinkhorns, black mold, yeast, and even Malassezia, the dandruff-related fungus that Head & Shoulders shampoo is designed to combat. Money is an English-born mycologist who has spent his life uncovering the secrets and lore of fungi, including varieties that thrive in solid granite, feed on human flesh, assist in crime-scene investigations, and, as in the case of a particular armillaria covering twenty-two hundred acres in Oregon, grow to become the largest organisms on earth.

Of course, the fruiting bodies of various fungi are prized for their epicurian and hallucinogenic properties. In MOREL TALES (Illinois), the sociologist Gary Alan Fine makes an amusing study of the "culture of mushrooming," tagging along with intrepid members of the Minnesota Mycological Society as they perform the "naturework" of plucking such deep-woods delicacies as slippery jacks and bringing them home to saut. …

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