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  • A neighbor came by yesterday with a basket full of green tomatoes for me, and a basket full of mushrooms for identification.

    We had shown her chanterelles that grow in the woods, which are plentiful, and we have been eating for decades.
    Last fall we added saffron milk caps to the good list and have been enjoying them this season too.
    Boletus are common in our woods but need to be eaten very fresh or else they go slimy and fill with worms.

    Jeff and I looked at her full basket.
    She was hoping they would be field mushrooms, but those have brown gills.
    These were white, all white with a straight shaft and a frilly skirt.
    “Avenging Angel,” I said, “they are ivory white and have skirts.”
    The name alone translated into “Don’t eat this.”

    We all frowned at the basket, full of a dubious harvest that could be dinner or death.

    The temperature was dropping, and it was windy, and she did not feel like coming in to look through the mushroom books.
    A personal recommendation is more critical than mere identification.
    She would not eat the mushrooms.

    When she left, we went to the books and sure enough, it was a vey close match for the “Destroying Angel.”
    There were four types, all very similar, 3 were deadly poisonous and one was edible. The book recommended a spore sample be taken and examined.
    A spore sample was a several hour process of forcing the mushroom to release spores and then examining their color.
    And you could still be mistaken.

    The difference between poisonous and deadly poisonous is the magnitude of reaction.

    Our friends in Vermont, long time mushroom gatherers, undercooked their dinner one night and, along with 2 guests ended up at the emergency room vomiting heavily.
    The difference between cooked enough and just under can make you sick.

    But deadly is different and someone figured this out some time past, and there is only one way that could have happened.

    I was visiting the Black Forrest in Germany, the following April after Chernobyl, in 1987.
    Our hosts had gardens and lived in an old mill.
    They were avid mushroom gatherers but said it was now unsafe to eat wild mushrooms after the radiation had spread a little blanket over everything.
    They said it was unsafe for their lifetime.

    That ice-cold blanket of the radiation of the Terminating Angel lies invisible over the forest floor.
    They have since moved from the mill to the French and German border.
    I saw a picture of their view, that looks out over hills and across the road is a vineyard.

    The name of their new road is “Weinberg Strasse”, that is “Vineyard Street.”
    Wine the blood of Bacchus, the blood of the redeemer.
    Wine to help us, wine to heal us.
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