A Forager's/Fanatic's Guide to Mushrooms
Foraging is an art that goes back to the beginning of time; some even say it dates back older than Tyrannia, and in most food-related foraging occurrences, has always been an important part of satisfying a hungry belly. Foraging is an activity that involves going out into nature and other whereabouts to scrounge around and find different things. In most cases, edible things. Some people specialize in foraging herbs or flowers, but today I'm going to teach you all about mushroom foraging and the different types of mushrooms you can find around Neopia!
First and foremost, mushrooms are a type of fungi. If you really think about it, they are the fruit of the entire fungi family. Essentially, the fungus grows in various places with plenty of the basics needed(dampness, foliage, etc.) readily available and starts sprouting mushrooms, many of which are edible, though some are very poisonous. The mushrooms contain thousands of spores. In the beginning of the growing process, spores are emitted from other mushrooms, and are spread by Petpetpets picking them up. They get scattered all across Neopia this way, similar to how bees pollinate flowers. Because of this, you can find a very extensive variety almost anywhere you venture out to. You can get some pretty repulsive ones in the Haunted Woods, or you can find some of the most exquisite and delectable ones growing in the plush greenery of Faerieland. If I were you, I wouldn't just scramble around in the Haunted Woods eating whatever grows on trees without consulting a handy dandy mushroom guide first! Mushrooms require moisture to grow, and the more moisture that is in the air, the more likely they are to form. You'll have a hard time finding them in Qasala or the Lost Desert, as these lands both have very dry, arid climates. Luckily, you're guaranteed to find an abundance in the woods surrounding places such as Meridell; they happen to be one of Illusen's favorite foods!
In fact, many of the faeries love mushrooms and have cultivated their own species. You'll notice as you're exploring around Faerieland some very interesting mushrooms growing, such as the tooth-shaped Tooth Faerie Mushroom. This mushroom has a very hard exterior, similar to a tooth, but the inside is very tender and perfect for frying up. You'll also come across an extremely light and airy mushroom created by the Air Faerie; this one is a bit more odd to eat because it's similar to biting into a cloud, but gourmet buffs everywhere are perpetually on the hunt for this one! There are also some extremely rare mushrooms out there, like the Space Faerie Mushroom, thought to be just as elusive as the Space Faerie herself. Another among our many faerie-themed mushrooms comes the Grey Faerie Mushroom. This one is grey and wilted and...absolutely disgusting. However, gourmet fanatics everywhere use it as a rite of passage: if you can eat this, you can eat anything!
Mushrooms are also great in a variety of applications, such as using the common Morel species for a Morel Mushroom Dip, or even slicing up an earthy mixture of mushrooms and tossing them with herbs and veggies for a wholesome, healthful salad. Incidentally, you'll find many omelettes and pizzas filled with mushrooms. They add the perfect taste and texture to a wide array of our most favorite savory foods!
However, food isn't the only way to utilize your mushroom findings! Illusen, famous for her abilities with nature, has conjured up various medications using mushrooms. Items like the Mega Power Plusshroom or the Level Up Shroom are particularly rare but will make your pets stronger instantly after ingesting them. What's more, Mushroom Ointment has become a great topical cure to skin issues on your Neopet, just rub some on the problem and it should clear up quickly.
Mushrooms are so loved and give a nice aesthetic, they've even spawned an entire fandom. Nothing says "I LOVE MUSHROOMS!!!" quite like wearing a Handsewn Mushroom Hat. That's not the only wearable you can get featuring your favorite fungi! The Hilltop Mushroom Background will make your pet feel like they are up in the hills, foraging for the rarest species of mushrooms. Since mushrooms are amazing at absorbing and retaining moisture, the Jewelled Mushroom Umbrella is a must-have for rainy days. There is a plentiful assortment of backgrounds and foregrounds featuring mushrooms or buildings constructed with the aesthetic of the mushroom in mind.
Now that you're armed with all the knowledge about dressing like a mushroom and which are some of the best to pick, we can tackle the issue of actually obtaining them. You'll find many beginners(even experts) with a Razumi alongside them for a hunting companion. Razumis are curious little ones whose great love is to not only forage, but to loyally bring its findings back to you. However, if you seek to challenge yourself without the aid of a Petpet companion, my simplest, most expert word of advice to you is to plainly trust your intuition and be vigilant of your surroundings. Rely on your wits and knowledge of your environment to track down the heavenliest mushrooms. Grab a flashlight for inspecting logs and around tree trunks. Have a plentiful water supply, snacks, sunscreen, a foraging knife, a mushroom identification guidebook, and any other equipment you may need depending on where you live or plan to collect mushrooms at. When you've found your bounty, the best method to transport them is in a lightly woven basket. Using this technique allows the mushroom spores to be distributed as you walk about the forest to encourage more mushroom growth. If you're thinking about using anything like plastic bags, it may cause the mushrooms to sweat, leaving them slimy and not as plump.
Foraging is a wondrous and healthy way to spend an afternoon! Now that it's spring time, the weather is ideal for this recreation. It gets you out in nature and the fresh air, and it helps you feel much more connected with the world. My last recommendation is to HAVE FUN! If you're exploring different activities to discover a new and nearly inexpensive hobby, foraging for something you love is a great place to start! Strap on your best hiking boots, get your fanny pack and a wide brim hat, and set off with your basket; you'll have a fresh bundle and a great time soon enough!