Reindeer really do fly. Ho! Ho! Ho
Imagine the ultimate Trotter that could actually fly. Eat enough mushrooms and apparently this could happen…
Some of you may know I have three dogs and they are responsible for the sum total of my exercise. When I am out with them I say I am in my field office, sounds a bit like I’m on the front line, believe me, sometimes I feel like it. But I manage to make time for good long walks with the hounds and whilst on one of these walks this latest blog came to mind.
Its mushroom season and it always amazes me how some people know which are the delicious kind and which are deadly poisonous, it seems to me a bit like a game of Russian roulette as I see people out in the woods where I walk with the tools of the mushroom pickers trade, their stubby knife and thumb and wicker basket..
Those wicker baskets get everywhere, but these do not carry picnics, these are for the gentle placement of said delicacies so that they are kept dry and avoid being crushed. I actually asked a lady one day how she knew which were ‘human friendly’ and she explained that she had been coming to these woods since she was a little girl and was shown by her mother. She did finish with a cautionary note about it not being as easy as it looked and to watch out for ‘Slippery Jacks’…best left to the people in the know!
Last year I saw the most enormous traditional red and white mushroom in perfect condition, you can see how big it is…it has a zebra sitting under it (AKA a key ring) to give it scale! I didn’t even know what it was called, a fairy mushroom was how I knew it and when I looked it up I found some interesting points about the Fly Agaric, or Amanita Muscari, the most important being that is has very strong hallucinogenic properties and can be fatal.
Reindeer who live in the pine forests of Scandinavia can eat the mushroom with impunity
and, a little known fact is that some reindeer herdsmen from Scandinavia called The Saami drink reindeer urine ( puts a whole new meaning to ‘Don’t eat the yellow snow!!’) and experience a milder yet still very strong hallucination.
Now…mentioning Reindeer brings to mind possibly the most famous of all (cue for a song) Rudolph et al and how they are synonymous with Santa Claus. Also, please note, the region we are discussing is Scandinavia in general, I cannot be drawn into a discussion as to which country Santa comes from, it is enough for me to know that he really does exist, wears a red coat and his reindeer fly. The poem , ‘Twas the night before Christmas written in 1823, crystallised this image, and countless Christmas cards reinforced it. What I wonder is, does the flying reindeer idea come from some hallucination by The Saami, who whilst under the influence of (dare I say it,) Reindeer wee, actually believed they saw the reindeer fly and could the red coat and long white beard we associate with Father Christmas be attributed to the colour of the Fly Agaric Mushroom???
Evidence suggests the drug’s hallucinogens remained effective even having passed through five or six people, and some scholars maintain that this is the true origin of the expression ‘to get pissed’ – rather than having anything to do with alcohol intoxication. It’s also very curious how the large RED nose is not only associated with Rudolph but with many a good hearty drinker.
So when you look out of your window expectantly this Christmas Eve and wonder when he’ll be doing your region and have you put the brandy and carrot out in time, and by some freak coincidence you see your most desired Christmas Present, The Gourmet Trotter, flying across the sky, just question for a moment what went into the mushroom soup? Or have you peaked early and are just full of ‘Christmas Spirit’? The bottled variety….
Happy Christmas To All and To All a Good-Night from The Gourmet Trotter Company