Sunday, February 9, 2014


At the store this week, I checked off carrots as I dumped a bag in my cart then read the next line:


Christy wanted to make beef stew from scratch, which meant no canned cream of mushroom soup.  I meandered through Harmon's produce area wondering where they kept their mushrooms and realized, just as I found them, that I have never in my life bought mushrooms.  I stood in front of the mushroom wall suddenly ignorant and a little amazed.

I don't particularly like mushrooms.  As a kid they grossed me out.  Post mission I've learned to enjoy the flavor they contribute, though I only allow about half of them to make it down my gullet.  In this sense, it's not surprising that I've neglected their purchase.  On the other hand, I'm older than over 95% of 25-year-olds -- you'd think I'd have bought them by now.

So there I stood, looking at "button" mushrooms and portobello mushrooms, white ones and flimsy, hair-like ones.  All kinds of mushrooms.  Many of them live in cardboard boxes that remind me of the containers you get tulip and daffodil bulbs from, as if to emphasize: "These, O man, are Of the Earth."  Looking over their variety, and knowing that I didn't know the difference between any of them, I felt lost and little excited.  I thought, "There are people that like these things.  And they know what to do with them.  I wonder if I could be one of those people.  I wonder if I could make delicious things from this mostly mysterious fungus.  Yuck... these are fungus.  But they look kind of good."

It was kind of fun to discover something so new; doubly so because I've walked past them many, many times.

But practically, I had yet to choose some.  I waffled among1 the familiar looking, plastic wrapped container of pre-cut, "normal-looking" ones, the relatively gigantic portobellos and the quaint button-shaped ones.  Then I noticed a lady politely waiting for me to make my choice.  Instead of rushing, I backed away and asked, "Are you getting mushrooms?"


"I've never bought mushrooms in my whole life.  Which ones should I get?"

Her eyes lit up (I'm not exaggerating -- she was visibly excited).

Can you imagine my luck?  I had just presented my question to one of the aforementioned people-that-like-mushrooms-and-know-what-to-do-with-them.  She was a real fan!  After also waffling among a few, she recommended quartering the button guys -- they would hold up okay in a stew and taste good.

I let her finish, thanked her and got some of my own.

The stew was terrific, and I consciously enjoyed the few mushrooms that ended up on my spoon.

[1] I know that between is used only with pairs of things and among is used when speaking of three or more things.  I think waffling probably should only be used in between situations.  But "waffling among" is too funny a phrase to pass up.  It brings to my mind a lumbering, finned creature wallumphing through a flower-filled spring meadow.


J Travis Washburn said...

ha ha, matt, i love it. you're a great writer. and this makes me want to buy mushrooms too.

so is this the start of a health-food kick or something?

Matt Haggard said...

@Travis, heh, no. Just a "beef stew from scratch sounds really good" kick. And thanks.