Jump to content
Tasso

MOREL POISONING, OR GYROMITRA???

Recommended Posts

Wow, so sad to hear this.  Sounds like the chef knew what he was doing, perhaps she had an allergic reaction?  Wonder what the autopsy will reveal. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My mushroom book says that in some parts of Europe Gyromitra are still consumed after some prolonged cooking. To suffer such a strong poisoning you would probably have to eat them raw or be allergic.  May be some other mushroom was included by accident.

I have been looking out for morels for quite a few years but I have never found them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't read the entire article provided in Tasso's link. (You need to register and become a member of the site where the article is posted.) But, I did read far enough to see that the alleged culprit was a species of Morchella. So, I'm wondering about the viability of the proposal that the mushrooms were actually a species of Gyromitra. Especially in Europe, where Morchella and Gyromitra are both consumed, the difference is well understood. Presumably the experienced chef knew how to distinguish. 

There are documented incidents in which people became ill after consuming raw morels. Suggestions that morels should be "well cooked" are common throughout the popular literature. My understanding is that a volatile toxin present in morels (presumably in relatively insignificant amounts) is removed by cooking the mushrooms. So, my guess is the chef failed to cook the presumed morel mushrooms long enough to remove the toxin. Perhaps the victim had a preexisting physical disposition making her particularly susceptible to the toxin? The article says other customers eating at the same restaurant were sickened that same evening. 

I personally know one person who once became ill after eating a skillet-full of sauteed "baby" Fire Morels (probably Morchella tomentosa). In this case there are a few things to consider as contributing factors. Perhaps the young unexpanded morels contained above-average levels of the toxin? Some volatile toxins evaporate either while a mushroom remains in-situ or soon after it's harvested. Also, quantity consumed is a consideration. And, do some species of Morchella contain higher levels of toxins that others? 

I once spoke to a professional mycologist who told me that, over the course of time, he developed a sensitivity to consuming morels and ultimately stopped eating them. 

I tend to use morels sparingly, as one component of an overall meal. Once a year I make "Forager's Quiche", which features asparagus from our garden, fiddle-heads, wild leeks, and a skillet-full of well cooked fresh morels (sauteed prior to being baked in the quiche). I haven't ever had a problem. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Dave W said:

I tend to use morels sparingly, as one component of an overall meal. Once a year I make "Forager's Quiche", which features asparagus from our garden, fiddle-heads, wild leeks, and a skillet-full of well cooked fresh morels (sauteed prior to being baked in the quiche). I haven't ever had a problem. 

That reads like a good recipe. In central Italy wild asparagus is quite common and is more tasty than the cultivated variety and would be perfect in your quiche.  I just need to find the morels and the fiddle heads.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Note that the article says that 11 other diners suffered from symptoms similar to those of the person who died; so, it was not likely to be an allergic reaction.  I suspect that it was a case of undercooked morels.  There was a similar incident at a wedding in Vancouver, BC, some years ago.  Quite a few people became ill from raw morels in a salad provided by the caterer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Phil said:

That reads like a good recipe. In central Italy wild asparagus is quite common and is more tasty than the cultivated variety and would be perfect in your quiche.  I just need to find the morels and the fiddle heads.

Also... in the quiche, shredded Swiss cheese, small amount of either diced shallot or diced sweet green pepper in the skillet with the morels, and some sherry to deglaze the skillet. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/21/2019 at 7:27 AM, Dave W said:

I tend to use morels sparingly, as one component of an overall meal. Once a year I make "Forager's Quiche", which features asparagus from our garden, fiddle-heads, wild leeks, and a skillet-full of well cooked fresh morels (sauteed prior to being baked in the quiche). I haven't ever had a problem. 

Sounds like a feast!  Can't wait for the weather to warm here so I can forage fiddleheads, wild leeks (ramps), and morels again!!!   I know it's a bit off topic, but last year, I got scared, I'd picked the wrong fiddleheads, and didn't eat them.  Would you be willing to ID my fiddleheads too, Dave?  😀

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Michelin star chef wouldn't confuse morels for other mushrooms. I have a feeling the morels were not the issue. And the article says they had multiple courses in a tasting menu at the restaurant. Maybe it wasn't mushrooms at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that it may not have been the mushrooms, but as a former chef and mushroom seller, chefs don’t know as much as you’re assuming. They know cooking, not mushroom Identification. I think most depend on the expertise of the hunters. Also, the head chef of a Michelin star restaurant is like the head of a large lab at a university. They run the operation from the top but don’t have as much to do with the day to day stuff (like produce intake). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/8/2019 at 11:34 AM, EatTheWeeds said:

Sounds like a feast!  Can't wait for the weather to warm here so I can forage fiddleheads, wild leeks (ramps), and morels again!!!   I know it's a bit off topic, but last year, I got scared, I'd picked the wrong fiddleheads, and didn't eat them.  Would you be willing to ID my fiddleheads too, Dave?  😀

I don't know the different species of fern very well. I go by the following --which seems to work in my area.

The edible fiddleheads are at first covered in a copper-colored papery substance that erodes away as the fiddlehead expands into a fern. Fiddleheads that are at the best stage of edibility have patches/scales of the coppery covering that needs to be peeled/stripped away before preparation. I think there are (at least) two species that I collect for the table... small ones, and large ones that I believe are Ostrich Ferns.

Fiddleheads that have a fuzzy white coating should not be eaten. These types are usually a lighter green color than the edible types, and they taste bitter. 

Also, should mention... Care should be taken to avoid over-harvesting of wild leeks (ramps). It is recommended that only a few plants are taken from a patch (5%-10%). 

As for the morels vs. Gyromitra discussion... A few days ago I read --on the NAMA email discussion-- the mushrooms served at the restaurant were fresh cultivated morels imported from China. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The owner of the restaurant confirms that the mushrooms probably came from China but they thought they were Spanish. https://business.facebook.com/pg/RestauranteRiffValencia/posts/?ref=page_internal

Its interesting that they can't serve good wild mushrooms in a Michelin restaurant in Valencia.  If they were shipped from China it seems likely they were dried, frozen or tinned even though the restaurant says they were in perfect condition.

Personally I would keep clear of any wild mushrooms from a restaurant or supermarket.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I said somewhere previously on this forum that my wife got sick 2 times after consuming very well cooked Morels that grow under tulip poplar trees. I showed tons of photos and it was confirmed they were morels. I never got sick from them. We parboiled them twice before sautéed and fried. There are tons of them in NJ where we live but we will never pick morels again. There is no Gyromitra around here, in case some of you will start saying we probably ate Gyromitra.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some people are particularly sensitive to morels. I think this falls into the category of allergy. I agree, Dan, that one who knows how to recognize morels is unlikely to confuse them with Gyromitra. And, the tulip poplar woods of NJ have some good morel spots. I make a couple visits to NJ each spring to hunt morels in the tulip poplar woods. But, I have seen Gyromitra in NJ, mainly G. brunnea. The photo was taken in 2014.1644443829_GyromitrabrunneaNJ5-2A2.thumb.JPG.f57f223028475fbb4942e35cfb176088.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that it is more likely that Verpa bohemica rather than any Gyromitra would be mistaken for a true morel.  Here is a photo from 2011 showing a V. bohemica that has darkened ridges similar to black morels.  You have to look closely to note that the bottom of the cap isn't attached to the stem.  Also, I've read that these Verpas are available commercially in Europe, as well as North America.  I presume that they would be more dangerous than true morels if undercooked.

 

IMG_1061.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...