Filed in Food

Meeting the Mushroom Sangha

Tricycle's food columnist serves up a risotto that packs a soft punch.

Noa Jones

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In her poem “Mushrooms,” Sylvia Plath evokes the early appearance of forest fungi, calling them “soft fists” that insist their way up through needles and leafy bedding. Soft fists. I love it. Especially because my lesson learned through a bit of mycological exploration was something of a gentle punch.

Mushrooms were on my mind after a royal risotto extravaganza served up with immense grace by my friend Cecile. Fifteen people from around the world dove into the meal around a long table in Manhattan as the conversation veered from drones shaped like bees to torched castles to psychedelic ecstasies, then back around to the historical Buddha’s toxic last supper, known as the sukara-maddava.

It’s generally agreed that Shakyamuni Buddha’s death at the age of 80 was caused by some kind of food poisoning. Often sukara-maddava is translated as “pork,” but sometimes it’s rendered as “mushroom.” I supplicated Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi...

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