Today I have been picking Jews’-ears (also known as Wood Ears or Jelly Ears – ed). This is not some nasty anti-Semitic habit; “Jews’-ears” is the name of the lovely velvety-brown fungus that grows on Elder and dead Elm. They are my daughter’s favourite mushroom and the important thing to know about Jews’-ears is this: The ones that grow on Elder are tasty and good to eat but the ones that grow on Elm are poisonous. If you can’t tell the difference between Elder and Elm it might be better just to buy some normal mushrooms from Ray-the-Veg.
You hardly ever find them, or any other fungus come to that, growing on a tree with ivy on it, or on holly, and I suspect that the holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, exert an anti-fungal influence upon their immediate environment, (I tried singing this in church on Christmas morning but I ended up two bars behind everyone else, somehow it just doesn’t seem to scan,) which might be why some farmers hang holly in their calf pens to prevent ringworm, which is a fungal infection.
To cook Jews’-ears, cut them into strips and fry them in some of that nice butter from Mark-the-Cheese or Steve-the-Truckle, seasoning either with garlic, salt and lots of crispy parsley from Helen-the-Veg, or with Tarragon, which seems to go very well with them.
It seems deeply sinister to me that practically every language in the world has the same word for “Dragon”: “Draque” in French, “Ddraich” in Welsh, “Drach” in German, “Drakon” in Russian, “Kraken” in Norwegian, “Thrakon” in Greek, “Tarragon” in Catalan. I could go on but I have run out of foreign dictionaries. Why on Earth should an animal that doesn’t even exist have basically the same name in every language? The word must have been terribly important to our forefathers, as if the tower of Babel had a big sign hanging on it in every known language: “Remember The Word “Dragon”.”
The only country that I can think of that has an etymologically unique name for “Dragon” is North Korea: they call it “Donald Trump.”
May God bless us and keep us from nuclear annihilation.
Editors Note: There are many types of British wild fungus which are edible and delicious, but a larger proportion are inedible, and even deadly poisonous. Do not pick wild fungus unless you are 100% certain that you have correctly identified it.