My professor sat there, leaning back in his chair with a smile on his face.
“So none of you have been to the mushroom shop? Really? That place is the stuff of dreams.”
Eager to find out what this mushroom shop was, and why it was the stuff of dreams, I walked down the ‘hip’ street known as St Denis to explore this famous fungi-loving place.
It is all in the name: The Mushroom Store. There were fresh mushrooms, dried mushrooms, mushroom tea, mushroom cookies, mushroom ornaments and even mushroom sausages. An overwhelming amount of food-stuffs and interesting, quirky compilations of fungi and fun greeted me as I walked in. I have never been a fan of mushrooms, but as soon as I entered this shop, I was in awe.
I recently became aware that fungi cells are closer to animal cells than they are to plant cells, which therefore means that mushrooms are basically closer in genetic make-up to humans than they are to plants. What an amazing organism which is both extremely tasty but can be extremely potent.
The store’s mission is to
show customers around the world what mushrooms can contribute to their diet, their health, their hobbies. Our purpose is to accompany them to the frontiers of the mushroom world, from the forest to the kitchen, from the garden to the workshop.
Mushrooms have historically been utilised for healing purposes, and this idea still resonates today. Some are said to be anti-tumoral, others are anti-oxidants, some are recommended for digestion problems, and some contain immunomodulatory compounds. The shop owners give a huge amount of information on the species, promoting the wonder of mushrooms whilst also giving caution to wild mushroom picking.
They have a stall at the huge Jean-Talon market in Montreal, which is itself an overwhelming, fantastic hub for food lovers. I visited in October and saw pumpkins the size of a large tractor wheel!
I bought a dried bag of shiitake mushrooms from the store. I then ran home and quickly smeared a few onto some toasted slices of sour dough bread. I savoured the health benefits and the potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamins B and protein in them too!