5 min read

Man meets mushroom

Man meets mushroom
Solid and fleshy, Macrocybe crassa mushrooms can “grow as big as an Esky”, says Martini. “I once saw this mushroom breaking through the decking near someone’s front door.” Photography Jaka Adamic.
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Martin Martini found love in a forest—saffron milk caps and chanterelles, morels and amanitas—along with an underground movement of mushroom lovers.

Words Martin Martini

Photography Jaka Adamic

TWENTY years ago, I fell in love. A loud Melbourne party, an overheard conversation. Something about mushrooms. An amazing and delicious orange mushroom you can’t buy in any supermarket, that grows around pine trees in the forest, that you have to go and find.

So I go looking. I find many orange mushrooms before I find my first saffron milk cap. Once I find one, I’m hooked. The more I look, the more mushrooms appear. Then I find the other lovers, the secret groups and pages, the whispered trails of conversations and identifications, the fierce disagreements and carefully guarded maps. It swallows me. I’m lost, gone, head over heels.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and here I am, still lovesick. I’ve eaten 200 different wild forest mushrooms and I’m not dead. I’ve found psilocybin mushrooms growing in the middle of the Melbourne CBD, morels growing in the lawn of a Brisbane apartment complex, rhubarb chanterelles in my sisterin-law’s Mullumbimby backyard, pink chanterelles by the beach in Noosa. We have some of the rarest and tastiest mushrooms in the world here; probably they’re in your own backyard. Probably you’ve walked right past them, talking on your phone or looking at the birds. Once you learn to look, though, they will appear. Later, all you have to do is dream them up and they’ll arrive. The mushroom wants you to find it. The more you find, the more you eat, the more you think like a mushroom. I know when they’re out there.

A ghostly white parasol mushroom, Macrolepiota dolichaula, poses for its tintype portrait by Jaka Adamic.
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