If you go down to the woods today…the last of the St George’s mushrooms have sadly gone, killed by the heat.
But in memoriam of these delicious morsels for another year, I want to celebrate the Japanese naturalist and illustrator Minakata Kumagusu.
Kumagusu is something of a legend in Japan thanks to his work ‘The Illustrated Book of Bionomics of Japanese Fungi’. This book covers 4,500 different kind of fungi with an amazing 15,000 illustrations.
He essentially devoted much of his life to what we find in dark, damp places. For example, turning up new varieties of mycetozoan, a kind of slime mould, which admittedly doesn’t sound quite so appealing.
And his work lives on in the varieties of mushroom used in modern-day Japanese cooking – the maitake, bunashimeji, matsutake, enoki and hiratake, as well as the more ubiquitous shiitake.