Mushrooms: The King of Fungi
Although most people treat mushrooms as vegetables, they are part of the fungi family, which means they don’t need soil or light to grow. Mushrooms, unlike fruits and vegetables, do not contain chlorophyll and so they do not photosynthesize. Mushrooms are just one of the many species of fungi that exist; however, because there are so many different species, they have been given their own kingdom: the Kingdom of Fungi.
The History of Mushrooms
Although undocumented, there is a good chance that mushrooms have been eaten for as long as there are people inhabiting the Earth. Before mushrooms were cultivated, they grew wild, and our ancestors ate mushrooms that they found in fields and forests. Historians have seen wild mushrooms on the menus of the Romans, Aztecs, and Egyptians, who considered mushrooms to be the “food of the Gods.”
The shift from edible wild mushrooms to cultivated mushrooms began in the middle of the seventeenth century, when a French melon grower accidentally poured water, used to wash wild mushrooms, over some melons discarded in a field. He soon noticed that many mushrooms sprouted in the spot, launching the era of cultivated mushrooms. The mushroom was named the “champignon de Paris,” which has since become the most common and versatile mushroom in the world.