Last Call: Tell us how you really feel about mushrooms

white button mushrooms growing at farm in France
Photo: FRANCK FIFE/AFP (Getty Images)

At The Takeout, it’s been the month of the mushroom. Using a tried-and-true method for sauteing mushrooms and maximizing their flavor, we devised a life-changing caramelized mushroom pasta recipe that your future dinner guests will be thanking us for in the decades to come. Not only that, but the air fryer recently came out to play, too: Harissa Mushrooms with Toasted Couscous is a recipe for crispy, craveable caps that lends a whole new dimension to everyone’s favorite fungus.

Advertisement

Well, not everyone’s favorite fungus. Despite the veritable parade of recipes that demonstrate the versatility of this humble ingredient, mushrooms continue to be at the top of many otherwise adventurous eaters’ shit lists. The friend who first encouraged me to eat grilled octopus was the same friend I caught discreetly picking every last roasted mushroom out of a pasta dish at a potluck later that month. When ordering pizza toppings for a crowd, I’ll often get the response, “Anything but mushrooms.” I made a call for dietary restrictions on my wedding RSVPs and more than one person responded “mushrooms,” with the clarification, “Not allergic, just hate them!!!” Okay. What’s the deal with all this mushroom hate?

I have a theory here, and I know that people who dislike mushrooms will not be happy about it. But here goes: I think you all just haven’t found the right mushroom for you yet. Because even I, a mushroom enthusiast, have varieties and preparations that I find absolutely disgusting. There’s such a wide world of mushroom types, and ways to cook them all, that it’s very likely the haters can find something they gel with, just as I’ve found a few select mushrooms I loathe. If you don’t like the sliminess of a canned mushroom (often found on delivery pizza), try dry roasted ones! If you don’t like the crumbly texture of raw white mushroom slices (which are bafflingly included on many supermarket veggie trays), try a dish with more complex, caramelized mushrooms instead. If you find their flavor overwhelmingly earthy, stuff ’em with something brighter. The point is, whatever you don’t like about mushrooms might be an element that’s fully transformable. Or I’m as full of shit as a bed of mushroom fertilizer. Either way, I wanted to defend my beloved mushroom, and invite you all to sound off on the matter. Is fungi your friend or foe?

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

DISCUSSION

If they stay in their lane and do the job they were sent to do—a nice texture variation in a salad, a little flavor booster in a pasta sauce, maybe even on a pizza someone else is sharing with me that I didn’t order myself—I have no objection to them.

It’s when they start getting ideas above their station—”it’s a portobello burger, you’ll love it!” while I’m like “where’s the beef?”—or trying to be the star of a show when my preference is that they act as a background player, that I start getting like “dude, they didn’t make Miles O’Brien captain of the goddamn Enterprise, now get back to the transporter room where you belong.”