In the 1970s, in the small art community of Mendocino, California, a new kind of textile dye emerged, shedding light on the little fungus that never ceased to amaze. From truffles to poison, mushrooms are a species to recon with. Nowadays, we see so many products coming out of them that, soon enough, we will grow mushroom forests.
On a not-so-recent trip to California, I stumbled onto a mushroom cart that took my breath away. And so I started being curious about this tasty little thing that has so many colours. Curiouser and curiouser.
And as an architect, with my holidays filled with meandering trips through urban and not-so-urban places, taking in the beauty of the world around means often looking for colour. I had not expected, though, to find it so abundantly and intricately displayed on a Sunday-morning market stand!
Essentially a long hall with shops on both sides, the inside of the terminal has a healthy travel mix of cafes, energy drink bars, souvenir shops and stores with a great assortment of market-like goods. In one of these, the mushroom stand was anchored crossway to the pedestrian traffic; you could hardly miss it.
The colour is what attracted me at first. But as I got closer, the unusual shapes became visible. The almost chameleonic look of green sea beans mushrooms, the delicate petals of oyster mushrooms, the oceanic porousness of the morels and the sunset-gold of curled-up chanterelles were nothing like anything that I’ve ever seen before.
How would it be to be a mushroom picker? To walk slowly through forests, sniper eye shooting to the ground, carefully collecting these fragile and tasty wonders and the immense child-like joy of finding them. I imagine it to be very much like prize-winning. I absolutely love mushrooms now even more!
And as I cook them home, back from San Francisco, sautéed with a bit of home-garden parsley, I cannot but enjoy the memory of that morning when I stumbled upon their cousins from the west.
And the dish instantly tastes so much better!
What I feel is who I am – Nature, the Renaissance and the future of colour, part 2
Colour-me-perfect – When working with muted colours, shape and texture are everything, part 1
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