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May 13, 2009

What To Do With Mushroom the ‘Tweener


Among foods, mushrooms are not mushrooms. They are ‘tweeners. It was this difference in names that has in the past led to substantial breakdowns in communication between people and the food they eat. It has been hypothesized that this, in turn, led to the erroneous categorizing of Pluto as a planet. When the error was discovered, it was corrected under the guise of a change in definition among astronomers because it was believed that the release of this information may cause a public panic over talking food.


This can now be shared publicly because translators have finally figured out why it is that mushrooms are known among their own kind as ‘tweeners. The reason is quite simple – they exist somewhere circulating around in the netherworld between vegetable and meat. Although some scientists might be tempted to tell you that this has much to do with biological classifications, in reality those biological classifications are themselves spoiled by the unknown nature of the mushroom: Is it meat or is it vegetable?


The quandary comes down to this: You may make a burger from a whole cap of a Portobello mushroom, or you may slice up the same mushroom and add it to a green salad. Now you know. Now you are certainly stumped.


What is known is that there are a couple of foods that mushrooms get on with well enough that they never appear out of place. Try sitting a mushroom next to an apple. It doesn’t work, and never will even if you were to contemplate it for five billion years. Things seem out of sorts. Place an orange next to a leek, and the appearance of the world rights itself.


Place those things next to each other in a heated skillet with olive oil, and you have the beginnings of lunch.


Both the mushroom and the leeks must be sliced thin. You will want both to soften and also to release their own internal juices into the bottom of the pan, where they will join with the pressed garlic that you began gently frying after turning on the skillet (this reversing of time is one of the mushroom’s charms).


Add also some sliced zucchini. You are doing this for both flavor and appearance. It may complain at first – the mushroom, with its indecipherable ways, tends to make the simple squash somewhat uncomfortable – but eventually it will just go along to get along. Zucchini is nice like that.


As the three cook, add some dashes of red pepper flakes for some added warmth to the finished product. It will be done when all ingredients have softened and the mushrooms have turned a nice golden brown.


There is one thing between what you have in your skillet and its ultimate destination, which is a nice bed of warm brown rice – soy sauce and fresh squeezed lemon juice. These will mix with whatever juices are in the bottom of the pan to create a velvet-y, mushroom-y sauce for the rice.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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