The fairytale mushrooms actually exist

<Photo of an Amanita muscaria mushroom in France>I may come across sound a tad naive here, but that’s okay — it’s part of the fun of exploring the world. Those toadstools that I saw pictures of in fairytale storybooks when I was a kid actually do exist. Laugh all you like, but they’re not native to Australia, so the ones we have aren’t very prolific, and the first time I’d seen a real one was here in France. To say I was surprised is an understatement. At first, I wondered if they were artwork!

Autumn is my least favourite season of the year (an unpopular view with many, but one I stand by for my own reasons), and these mushrooms, lessen my disdain significantly. They remind me of my childhood and the crazy stories that aid the growth of our imagination. The red and white mushrooms signify to me all that was brilliant about childhood.

That probably sounds odd to Europeans and others who have grown up with these mushrooms — which I now know are called ‘amanita muscaria’. It’s one of lots of things you may point and laugh at me and many other Australians about.

For example, during my childhood, Christmas signified a time to draw snowmen and eat a massive, hot roast dinner — with the air conditioning on while it reached 40°C outside. I had only seen plastic mistletoe and holly before I lived in the Northern hemisphere. The first time I saw a bumble bee I smiled in delight: I was 27 and living in London. No, we don’t have those in Australia either. Whenever I see a bug with pincers, I presume its poisonous, based on the variety of nasty crawly things in Australia. My French friends giggle as I panic.

There are probably a few more surprises ahead, and I will embrace them as much the fairytale mushrooms and cosy white Christmases. Unless, of course, they’re like New Years Eve in winter. How on earth did that happen?

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About

I’m a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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4 comments on “The fairytale mushrooms actually exist
  1. Rosemary K says:

    They’re beautiful, aren’t they? I know exactly what you mean about the fairytale becoming a reality. I remember how delighted I was the first time I saw them. You can eat them you know, provided you cook them properly. They are hallucinogenic. I’m not game to try though because they can also be poisonous if NOT cooked properly.

  2. wonky73 says:

    I don’t think we have these in North America. At least not that I have seen. They do really look fake.

    And I check google and find out I am wrong. They exist in the North America.. hmm. never seen them even when out mushrooming.

  3. Mandy says:

    I love mushrooms like that! Growing up in England, I went to Brownies and the British Brownie experience was all about magical woodland creatures, toadstools and fairy rings and wise brown owls. I was a Leprachaun but secretly learned to be a Sprite instead. Imagine my horror when I went to South Africa and not only was there no legend and mythology but we were one of five supremely boring groups (I can’t even remember what I was – a hand or hare or something like that?)

    I’m eternally grateful for having experienced the magic as a small child though and still connect to it in woods and forests.

  4. Stewart says:

    They’re called “fly agaric” and are poisonous, well, they’re edible if you boil them in water, then drain the pan, poultry them again and then cook them, but if you get it wrong, you’ll want to get to a hospital pretty quickly.

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by wendyhollands.com, my other site.

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