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The magic of mushrooms


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Have you been a victim of mushroom price inflation? Do you want to be able to identify friendly mushrooms from foe? Or maybe you just want to enjoy a nice walk through the Cambria forest?

If the answer is “yes” to any of the questions above, get yourself to the next Annual Mushroom Walk, which is taking place on Jan. 15 from 8 a.m. to noon in Cambria. The event is free and is being led by mushroom expert Dennis Sheridan. The walk goes through the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and can accommodate most fitness levels.

It’s a sad fact that every year, a number of individuals go out in search of their own mushrooms and die as a result of misidentification.

By taking a guided tour, buying mushroom guides, and always asking an expert before ingesting anything you pick yourself, you can greatly reduce your risk of eating something toxic. Of course, the grocery store is a safe spot to pick mushrooms, too.

Many individuals also go out hunting for their own mushrooms, in the hope of experiencing Dark Side of the Moon with a little more … intensity. Ingesting mushrooms for their psychedelic effects is not an exact science (or even a safe science, unless you really know what you’re doing). The compounds psilocin and psilocybin cause varying effects on the brain. Unlike that handy little cup that comes with the bottle of Dayquil, there’s no measuring tool that will tell you when to stop with mushrooms. However, if at any point during a trip you find an 8-foot tall clown performing duets with James Taylor in your bathtub, you’ve had too much.

Cambria’s forests provide a beautiful and scenic breeding ground for lichen and fungi to grow. The careful observer might be able to spot everything from old man’s beard to the colorful caps of the poisonous Amanita muscaria, which was at one time used by housewives to attract and kill flies.

On the tour, there will be opportunities to touch mushrooms and other local plant life. Comfortable walking shoes, warm layers, and a camera are recommended. If you feel inclined to take a few expert identified mushrooms home with you, bring a basket as well. For all questions or to make reservations, call Joyce Renshaw at 927-2202.

Intern Maeva Considine compiled this weeks Bites. We want a Bite! Send your cuisine news to


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