Fussy About Fungi

Growing up, my mom’s Kosher chicken cutlets only got interesting whenever she threw some sautéed white mushrooms in garlic and parsley on top. These weren’t meaty mushrooms such as the mighty meaty Portobello, substantially chewy scrumptious Shitake Mushrooms or delectable Geisha light Oyster Mushrooms either. Whatever mushrooms they sold at A&P in the eighties and early nineties got the job done. Blue Cheese on burgers wasn’t a thing yet, Lamb Burgers forget about it. Back then, you were lucky to find a deli who made sandwiches with barely defrosted iceberg lettuce, you didn’t chip a tooth on, which looked more Bill Burr white, than sickly discolored green whenever his Dad threw on the old Golden Gloves for Saint Patrick’s Day again.

For Hanukkah, my mother always made her specialty stuffed baked, destemmed Baby Bella Bomb Mushroom with a delicious garlic, parsley, breadcrumb concoction, with some cream cheese mixed in between, to keep it Jewy enough, which helped counterbalance the Mariah Carey Christmas songs at full blast on constant rotation before Derek Jeter broke into her star studded snatch before Puff blew it up beyond recognition, holla, thank you very much. So, I was bound to try recreating some magic mushroom love on my own someday and be a tad less gun shy about munching on some magic mushroom tripping caps in college eventually. My senior year in high school, I’d order an occasional mushroom slice for lunch to, so I wasn’t fussy about eating the psychedelic, dry, woodsy, dried caps straight up with no chaser either. Illmatic lives holla thank you very much. I didn’t ask my boarding school burnout bud Gledhill at the time to place the magic tripping caps into a warmed up spinach wrap, with some arugula and goat cheese, to fend off any anxiety consumed panic attack from eating the cow shit birthed mushrooms by themselves alone, all alone, Heart lives, holla, thank you very much.

But my 1st brush with mushroom madness wasn’t from getting an uncontrollable case of the giggles my freshman year in college around my Deadhead crew within a dorm room the size of Hunter Biden’s slow days stash closet. Nor did I experience uncontrollable mushroom madness from feeling up a Sequoia tree in the valley on some magic caps in the most sensual, love thy tree like your hot neighbor with the big sun spot tits way, feeling’s God’s vibrating presence from within, before I receive a call on my pre-smart phone from my tripping roommate in the park and hear, “That light piercing through back the of your head isn’t God, it’s the police. Pull up your parents, were out of here.”

No, I had to make my own 1st batch of stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with spinach, peeled Roma tomatoes and fontina cheese, to experience my 1st brush of mushroom madness, because it felt like I was eating a dirt sandwich from a health food store in a 70’s Albert Brooks movie as I mutter to myself, “Isn’t Fontina Cheese high in cholesterol? And how do you live with yourself charging sky high prices for an overseas melting cheese not included in the Fondue set I got as a housewarming gift from Penny Marshall after Lost In America became a smash success? That’s how I got to cast Gary Marshall as the Pit Boss in Lost In America. You don’t know who Gary Marshall is? Don’t worry about it. All you need to know, is there’s no business like show business.”

The problem was I forgot to wipe the dirt off my mushroom caps from the nearby farmers market and I didn’t have a personal Shaman with an open third eye to point out my oblivious oversight.  Till then, I never knew what dirt actually tasted like because I had neck surgery at 2 and my parents shielded me from high contact sports like Football, so I had no idea of what a face full of dirt tasted like until I bit through my Portobello sandwich, which turned me off from trying to unearth Portobello magic for almost a whole decade on the backyard coal grill making sandwiches with goat cheese and bitter greens on a Ciabatta roll instead. I felt so dirty after crunching on multiple bites of actual specked dirt. It felt like I was caught pleasuring myself to she male stamps ads in the LA Weekly behind a garbage dump off Santa Monica Blvd. in broad daylight on a Tuesday at hard 11am, as the smell of musky ball sack permeates through boy’s town air. Andy Dick lives holla, thank you very much.

The last time I experienced mushroom madness on this infuriatingly dejected level was this past Sunday after I made the decision to give my kids a brush with mushroom magic by making them a Moosewood classic, Moosewood being a famous vegetarian restaurant and prolific cookbook publisher in Ithaca, NY . I transferred to Ithaca College my junior year because I outgrew tripping on mushrooms and feeling up trees in my spare time for the time being. Still, I hate to be married to any script, unless I wrote it of course, but even then, I like to mix things up, and make things less dronishly, climax free predictable. So I decided to dice up the cleaned, stuffed Portobello’s, brushed with a mix of sesame and Tamari Sauce which is a thicker yet slightly watered-down soy sauce, think Jon Cho from Harold and Kumar Got To White Castle. Those same stuffed mini-UFO size Portobello mushrooms were also filled with a combo of high-end peanut butter called Smooth Operator, an old school peanut butter shop in the West Village, ginger, diced up red peppers and shredded, dehydrated firm soy. Although the funky fresh Umami twist. was mixing these bomb supreme, magically flavorful fungi with some buckwheat Soba noodles, which all 3 of my kids slurped up with instant glee, instantly. Me taking 2 plus hours to make the entire dish, helped my kids readiness factor to attack the dish to, as we listened to Too Fast For Love on Vinyl from Motley Crue from start to finish, before mama got home from work later that evening after working in Lactation playing the role of unofficial boob doctor whisperer consultant all day long.

Along the way, I tapped into my age of innocence with renewed fervor and played an inspired air guitar version of Too Fast For Love with our broom stick, hailing Motley Crue’s guitar slayer, Mick Mars as the Freddy Kruger of Shredding. Who I need to write an article about one day in the hopes of selling it to fucking Pitchfork, Guitar World, or just posting another non billable blog post such as Shredding Hackneyed Hair Metal Cliches, anything but bearing the brutal thought of not letting the world know more about the most underrated metal guitar shredder of all time. Too Fast For Love, Motley Crue’s debut album, which they recorded in 2 weeks straight max, is by far the their most melodic ferocious, heart thumping, power punk pop record, ever put on wax by the 4 Hair Metal horseman. Too Fast For Love is the Hair Metal version of Exile on Main Street by the Stones, when Mick Mars, the oldest band member of his crew, made the guitar sound like a fucking buzz saw, shredding those strings to shreds as if the child support payments from his 1st marriage in his late twenties depended on it. Now, I’m not comparing my leisurely recreation of some Sunday slow mushroom magic to Mick Mar’s playing with his back against the wall on Motley Crue’s Too Fast For Love, although paying child support felt like the incoming imminent reality later that evening, after I flip out on my wife for pointing out how the food was great, but “The kitchen needs cleaning.” Words of wisdom ladies, when your husband bangs out another all-star dinner after looking after the kids all weekend, with no virtual grandparents in sight, resist the urge to minimize the specialness of the meal by treating him like like the neutered fucking help.  Next time my wife wants to get intimate on E pills for old time sake,  I’ll say, “But you haven’t gotten me that promised boob job 3 kids later yet. I think I’ll just feel up our tree in the garden instead. You’re not the only stump humper in this relationship, you know.”

Michael Kornbluth

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