Mind Over Mushroom Challenge Post Show

Bowl of MushroomsI gave myself 25 days. In that 25 days I ate umpteen pounds of mushrooms. Brown ones, white ones, small ones, big ones, round ones, saucer-shaped ones, alien-looking ones, medusa-like ones, whole, sliced, diced, processed – I covered the spectrum pretty darn well.

I learned that…

  1. Mushroom soup isn’t the worse. Mushroom skulls are.
  2. I have been a massive baby about mushrooms my whole life.
  3. While knowing #2 to be true, I still have a mushroom aversion.
  4. Some mushrooms are better than others. There actually is a difference.
  5. Whole mushrooms are the hardest to eat.
  6. Fresh mushrooms are the easiest to eat.
  7. Mushrooms aren’t that bad (says my mind).
  8. Mushrooms are horrible (says my heart).

But perhaps, the biggest lesson I learned is that

  1. A changed mind takes constant work. You can endure many things and if you endure long enough you just might be able to tip the scales.

I changed during this challenge. Every challenge does that – it’s part of the reason why it’s important to push yourself, to try new things, to attempt to become better in some form. In this challenge I tried to overcome my aversion (hatred and disgust) of mushrooms. While ultimately I failed, I can’t admit that this was a complete failure – far from it, in fact.

I began with a rampant refusal to ever eat a mushroom. I ended with having eaten an astonishing amount and variety of mushrooms. I don’t like mushrooms – that still remains – but I no longer have an excuse (not that I ever really did) for leaving mushrooms on the side of my plate or refusing food because there is a mush chunk in it. I can eat mushrooms. I can do it. My dislike for mushrooms isn’t nearly as strong as it once was.

Your mind can be a prison guard if you let it. It’ll close those doors and throw away the key and you won’t even realize it. But if you can open it up enough to face your problems, to try and change, to let the understanding that what you have always held as truth may not be true, then you have more power and strength than you know. People (myself included) like to bury themselves in ignorance. This challenge may have been about mushrooms, but it could have been about anything. The hardest part is admitting that what you knew to be true, might be wrong.

Most times, when people are faced with this, they entrench themselves even more so in their beliefs rather than trying to see another perspective. It’s scary. Opening that door just a crack could change everything. So most of us resolutely slam it shut and turn a blind eye. It’s bigger than mushrooms, but if you can look your fear or problem or issue in the metaphorical eye than you stand a chance at overcoming your own ignorance and seeing real truth, not just your version of it, not just the version you want to believe.

Today, the real truth is that mushrooms aren’t the worst. The final thing I would like to leave you with is a request. When you find yourself in a you vs. something else situation, try and see that other perspective. Really try. Life is truly lived in the gray.

Outcome: Failure

(But with great strides of progress)

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 24: Mushroom Roulette

I’ve learned a few things over the past few mush meals and that has caused me to do the old switcheroo for the remaining two feasts. Initially this was supposed to be the grande finale of the challenge, but now it’s the penultimate meal.

While perusing mushroom-based dishes, I saw a picture for a ragu. Now, it’s already been established that I’m not proficient in the kitchen so it should come as no surprise that I had no idea what a ragu was. Based on the picture it just looked disgusting to me and earned top spot as my hypothesized worst meal. I didn’t look too much further into it than that. It looked gross and like it was maybe a soupy tapas type thing. It’s not.

I cooked it according to the recipe, but then had no idea how I was supposed to eat it so I turned on the internet and looked it up. Supposedly it’s some sort of sauce that goes on pasta. My cupboard’s are bare (I mean, really, I’m spending all my dough on mushrooms… I open the fridge door and it just smells like Toadstools den…) so I didn’t have pasta. Luckily I didn’t try to eat it like soup. That would have been bad. Instead, I whipped up some rice and did a little improvising.

Also important to note (a lesson I learned in the nick of time) is that marsala is wine. Not masala. Who knew one letter could make such a world of difference?

Now, where things get tricky is with the sheer variety of mushrooms that I loaded this second-to-last meal with. When it came down to the eating, it was some pretty shady business. One mouthful might be full of shiitake mushrooms, another might be chanterelle, and yet another might be shimeji.Shimeji Mushroom

[Side note: That last mushroom (the shimeji) really creeped me out. All the stems huddled together into one clump and it felt like there were a million tiny little mushroom cap heads poking out. I couldn’t even look at it – a strange, inexplicable fear that it was some Medusa-like reincarnation nagged at the corner of my mind and as I brought the knife below the mushroom caps, I almost felt that a single cut would cause the network of mushrooms to squeal or hiss like a hundred snake heads ready to attack.]

Mushroom RaguBy putting so many different varieties together, it made it very clear that there really are some mushrooms that are better than others. But I’ll never know which ones. They were all diced up and looked the same to me so every fork-full was full of trepidation. Will I get lucky? Will it be a good one? An okay one? A bad one? Which ones are the bad ones? I can’t tell. What’s this? Is this even a mushroom? It must be. It has to be. Oh, wait, no. It’s just rice and parmesan. My hands start to sweat. I fidget, eyeing up the plate of mushrooms from the corner of my eye. This is ridiculous. The meal isn’t even bad. But you don’t know what you’re putting in your mouth! Oh hell, just pull the trigger already.

Mushroom roulette is not for me.

The meal was better than I had expected, although serving it with rice was really a saving grace. However, I will now forever be perplexed by which mushrooms are okay… because I distinctly remember one precise fork-fullwhere the mushroom that was in it was maybe the best mushroom ever. We all know that my saying that isn’t really an honour. Not when it comes from me.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Ragu – chanterelles, white mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, onion, garlic, chicken broth, cream, parsley, and parmesan