No not chicken chicken, but a Fungus called Chicken of the Woods! The reason being that “it tastes like chicken”!!
I have the pleasure of having a great old piece of Yew tree. I was not involved in the felling of the same, these old and regal trees should never be taken down. But this one was, some years ago and ended up at a wood yard near to home. Sitting there hidden and being used as a saw bench.
I offered to give it a home, a new place to rest. So it now sits in a corner of my field, receiving the odd hug when someone passes by.
Last week I notice is had a fungi growing on it. Hmm is this going to cause damage to an already dead tree, and what is it?
On the return from holiday of my knowledgeable friend I asked him the same. After some questioning on colour and appearance his decision was that “It will be chicken of the woods and it is edible”.
So off we trundled to the tree and on inspection learned friend confirmed his opionion, and broke a small piece off and ate it. Not to be outdone I did the same. After admiring the tree for a bit longer we returned to the house.
Then I remember a Christmas present of the River Cottage Handbook No1, Mushrooms. After flicking through the pages; there is was a picture of our fungi, Chicken of the Woods. Oh lets see what they say about it….
bright orange and yellow.. yep
grows on oak and other trees… yep
season Spring to Autumn… yep
Must be cooked, upsets some, avoid any growing on yews!… (the books exclamation mark not mine)!!!!!
Learned friend un-worried; he has eaten lots and is still here. As fungi are parasitic, and Yew are in themselves poisonous there is a thought that the fungi can absorb some of the Yew’s toxicity? But there is research ongoing which as yet is not conclusive one way or another but there is also reasearch into links to a cancer treatment.
Back to the book, “Chicken in the Woods is extremely easy to identify and as such is a safe bet. unfortunately, there is a problem, it does not agree with everyone and can cause dizziness, hallucinations and gastro intestinal problems… eat a small amount and cook thoroughly”.
Well I only ate a small amount, but too late to cook it and my learned friend is still not worried.
Now quite obviously, as I am writing this post, there is evidence that I am still in the world of the living. I haven’t knowing hallucinated, or been dizzy or required the bathroom in a hurry.
That said I had the best nights sleep I have had in months!