Mushrooms: The Story Behind this Fungi

October, 2012 · By Coryanne Ettiene

I have long since been amazed at how our tastes are dictated by our surroundings and the people who influence us the most. While traveling in the People’s Republic of China, I sat at a family table and watched with endless fascination while children devoured chicken feet with unabashed enthusiasm equally as much as they popped mushrooms into their mouths like they were popping cherries. I remember that meal with such clarity, I had just returned from a 42 hour hard seat train journey nearly dead from lack of food and confident that I would eat anything sat before me….sadly the menu coupled with my delicate palate left me staring at a bowl with steamed rice. Despite my many attempts, chicken feet were simply not the culinary delight I could learn to love, and thanks to my aunt who assured me that eating mushrooms was a fate worse than death, I had never met a mushroom that would touch my lips. If only that 20 something woman could see me today while I stand over the kitchen sink licking my fingers as I pop mushroom after mushroom into my mouth enjoying every burst of Umami.

What I love most about food is not just the taste, but the history behind it. For example, it was not until I started working with the Mushroom Council that I discovered that Umami is the fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Derived from the Japanese word umai, meaning “delicious,” Umami (pronounced oo-MAH-mee) is described as a savory, brothy, rich or meaty taste sensation. And low and behold, the humble mushroom is a rich source of Umami. The list of fascinating mushroom facts is endless, for example, did you know:

  • The darker the mushroom the more Umami it contains.
  • Fresh mushrooms should never be frozen, but frozen sautéed mushrooms will keep for up to one month in the freezer.
  • Cultivated mushrooms are grown indoors, allowing us to enjoy them seasonally 12 months out of the year.
  • When storing mushrooms, keep them in a cool dark place.
  • Mushrooms store for longer when loose in a brown paper bag.
  • Researchers at City of Hope, a leading cancer institute, have linked mushrooms with cancer fighting agents that may help slow the growth of breast tumors. Making it a super food that everyone will be reaching for in the coming months.

And to think I have been avoiding this gem my whole life… but I digress, pop over and view the Mushroom Council’s National Mushroom Month Pinterest board that showcases 30 days of mushroom facts to learn everything there is to know about this delicate delight that I have quite simply fallen in love with thanks to this Mighty Marinated Mushrooms recipe created by One Perfect Bite featured on the City of Hope Facebook page.  


The Mighty Mushroom recipe uses a handful of ingredients and takes hardly any time at all, making it not only a simple entertaining dish, but a healthy choice that your guests will adore.


  • 1 pound fresh cremini or white button mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar2 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon each black peppercorns and coriander seeds
  • Optional garnish: 1 tablespoon drained, chopped pimento

Click here for the full recipe and cooking directions to create your own  Mighty Mushrooms.

With the holiday season approaching, I am on the hunt for simple and healthy seasonal canapes, and this Mighty Marinated Mushrooms recipe ticks every box.  Great warm or chilled, simply ditch your fork, and spear each mushroom to give your guests a nibble between sips at your next cocktail party.  For more great mushroom recipes, visit the City of Hope on Facebook…with my sudden love of mushrooms, we might just bump into one another there.

Since 2002, the Mushroom Council (also known as The Mushroom Channel) has supported City of Hope’s breast cancer research, treatment and education programs through annual contributions $50,000 towards studies on breast cancer and mushrooms. Support this ongoing collaboration and research by buying the City of Hope pink till mushroom packs on sale the entire month of October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This post has been compensated as part of a collaborative blog effort to share information about the Mushroom Council  and their support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They supplied the factual information behind the story, whilst the food commentary is all my own.


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