Great Mushroom Article

Notes on the Ingestion of Amanita Muscaria

By Lawrence Millman and Tonya Haff
Reprinted from the SOMA

Boiled to remove its toxins, Amanita muscaria can usually be eaten with impunity. David Arora serves it on his forays; Russians call it mukhumor and delight in its nutty flavor; and the Japanesereputedly prefer it to Boletus edulis. Recently, Lawrence Millman and Tonya Haff had an experience of A. muscaria somewhat different from the purely culinary experience they intended to have.

Tonya cut two large (18 x 8 cm) muscaria buttons into ¼" strips and placed them in two quarts of boiling water. The mushrooms were cooked for 3 ½ minutes (they were actually in the boiling water for 5 minutes), and after they were drained, both of us sampled a few pieces. We found the taste pleasant, indeed agreeably nutty, although Lawrence thought they also had a slightly metallic aftertaste. We browned several more slices in olive oil and found them quite pleasant, too. The remaining slices were breaded, then browned. Altogether we ate almost all of the two buttons.

Twenty minutes later both of us started to feel distinctly "off." Lawrence found himself staring vacantly at some LBMs we were trying to identify. Tonya noticed that he was holding his stomach and looking uncomfortable. Once we agreed that muscaria was the culprit, we called David Arora and asked him what we should do. "Take notes!" David said. So what follows are the notes we took during the experience:

18:56. We ate A. muscaria at 6:00PM. Tonya was initially feeling hot, but now she's feeling cold. Her sense of smell is heightened. Lawrence can't seem to concentrate on identifying our mushrooms.
19:09. Tonya is slurring her words. Her pupils are dilated, and there's a lump in her throat. She finds the cedar-like odor of Camarophyllus russo-coriaceus quite cloying. Her upper lip is sweaty. Her stomach is mildly queasy, while Lawrence's stomach is very queasy.
19:15. Tonya's fingers are clammy. She says her arms are unusually goose bumpy. The cedar-like odor of the waxy cap is really bothering her now. Music is bothering her, too ("Bob Dylan driving me up a wall"). Lawrence retreats to the bathroom.
19:23. Having vomited up some of the muscaria, Lawrence says he feels a bit better. Or at least his stomach feels a bit better. The rest of him feels buzzed and more or less out of it. He also feels quite hot.
19:27. Tonya is experiencing a heightened sense of touch. Lawrence's fingers on her forehead seem to be burning a cold hole in her. There's an acute pain in her eye, but it soon goes away. Lawrence still has a slight buzz, very different, he says, from the experience of being drunk. He remarks that he's glad he's not a Siberian shaman. (Note: Siberian shamans eat muscaria for ritualistic purposes.)
19:38. Our "highs" seem to have stabilized. Lawrence is again trying to identify some of our mushrooms. Tonya says she feels almost normal, whereas Lawrence says he can't feel normal because he isn't.
19:53. Tonya is starting to feel a bit hungry. Lawrence's head feels like foam.
20:00. Tonya feels dizzy when she rolls her eyes. Also sort of sleepy. Lawrence succeeds in identifying a Mycena.
20:30. Tonya's feeling clumsy and poorly coordinated, but otherwise okay. Lawrence can't seem to dial a friend's phone number, and likewise can't close the sliding door without getting his hand stuck in it. Also, he says the mushrooms we're trying to I.D. are talking to him.
21:15. Lawrence has been silent for a while, listening to the mushrooms. All of a sudden he's very talkative, although he's not making much sense. "Smooth circus" --neither of us knows what that means. "Mushrooms are people, too," he says.
21:29. Both of us feel euphoric, Lawrence especially so --he says he hasn't felt this good in years. We decide to go out to dinner, but first we call David Arora to tell him that we're all right. "Whatever you do," David says, "don't drive." So we appoint Tonya's roommate Mikey the designated driver.
21:54. At a Chinese restaurant. Tonya thinks our food has a consciousness of its own as well as a texture that's "very real." She also thinks everyone in the restaurant is high, and that Lawrence likes Republicans, although he's earlier made it clear that he doesn't.
22:10. Lawrence is drinking a beer and says he can relate to the bottle, that the bottle can relate to him, and that the two of them are actually enjoying each other's company.
22:15. Our food feels very textured, and we seem able to commune with each grain of rice. We also feel that we're moving fast, but that our thoughts are moving slowly. Lawrence keeps dropping his chopsticks. Coordination is difficult for both of us.
22:10. Both of us seem to be suffering from short term memory loss. Lawrence feels that his critical sense, usually very much in evidence, has gone on vacation. The word "euphoria" keeps popping up in our conversation.

At 23:00 we leave the restaurant. Lawrence says that objects have no meaning, but simply exist. We see a dead deer on the road, and he says the difference between a dead deer and a living one is negligible. Tonya still feels elated, exuberant but at the same time relaxed. She falls asleep around midnight without any difficulty. For the next three days her right ring finger tingles when she hits it with her thumb, but otherwise she notices no symptoms relating to the muscaria ingestion. Lawrence has a deep sleep and wakes up the next morning feeling refreshed.
Later we asked David Arora why we experienced the ups and downs of an A. muscaria trip when all we'd wanted todo was experience the culinary delights of a muscaria hors d'oeuvre. His explanation: that the mushrooms were far too big for the pot in which they were boiled, with the result that only as much of the toxins were dissolved in the water as the water itself could hold. Thus our trips included a certain disarray of the senses, but not the full disarray experienced by Siberian shamans; and thus, too, our trips did not require a different sort of trip --i.e., to the hospital.

Editor’s Note: As they say on TV, “Do Not Try This in Your Own Kitchen”. For a great culinary experience, I think I will stick with so many good and safe edibles.

13 comments:

erica said...

OMG that's funny. "Take notes" was an excellent suggestion:)

musmire said...

Who took the notes? If they were so out of it, how could they take sensible notes? They even recorded the time.

Rei Akira said...

musmire, these are scientists. Of course they take impeccable notes! You can confidently identify a scientist by his note-taking skills...

Anonymous said...

LOL Gotta try it. I have eaten detoxified amanita muscaria, but I have never had a trip with it. Wondering how it feels...

Anonymous said...

3,5 to 5 minutes cooking is a rather short time. I was once adviced to cook them in lots of water with some spoons of salt added, unless of course you are aiming for a psychedelic experience. In that case, dry the mushrooms first to convert ibotenic acid in muscimol. Otherwise this conversion has to be done in your body. This adds a lot of discomfort. If you only have one dose, but two persons, one can eat them and the other can drink the urine of the one who has eaten the mushroom. Muscimol passes unconverted through the body. (Personally I keep myself to the salt cooking method of pre-dried mushrooms, very delicious)

Anonymous said...

I'll go first...

Petroglyph said...

Totally the appropriate answer to that question!
(Especially since it takes an amount approaching 15 caps for fatality, and the 20th Century was devoid of reliably documented A. Muscaria fatalities...the dangers are real, but greatly exaggerated...also, taking notes provides an artifact which is archival, and resistant to the depredations of time to which memory is subject! Mushrooms ARE people too, in their own way...every one deserving of respect, and every one a FUN GI !)

debbie viess said...

If you would like to read the whole truth around the true toxicity and worldwide "cultural acceptance" of the edibility of Amanita muscaria, I recommend that you read my rebuttal to the Rubel/Arora article here:

http://www.mushroomthejournal.com/bestof/muscaria_revisited.pdf

There have been recent recorded deaths from the ingestion of muscaria both here (from those wanting a high, and who didn't believe it to be toxic) and in Zambia (where introduced muscaria was mistaken for a truly edible, local, widely eaten red amanita species).

Serious poisonings, requiring hospitalization, from the ingestion of muscaria are commonplace around the world, and are why ALL other cultures, not just North America, shun and fear this beautiful fungus.

One can eat just one slice of unboiled muscaria with zero effect, let alone a soggy piece that has had all of the taste and most of the toxins boiled out of it. The toxins and their effects are dose dependent. But to portray this mushroom as a safe and accepted edible species anywhere and at any time in history, is both ignorant and dangerous, and has real effects in the real world.

Debbie Viess
Bay Area Mycological Society
www.bayareamushrooms.org

geodeveloper said...

The account of your event is indeed, hilarious! You must copyrite this personal narrative and attempt to have it made into a short story for either a stage play or perhaps a submission to one of the myriad film festivals. Heck...put it on Youtube.

That you were able to, and did, take such a detailed account of the experience, scientifically, is the real corker! This kind of a story is gold. Don't let anyone plagiarize this tale of "Two Scientists." Really, too many great lines to write them all done. Thanks a million for sharing.

Anonymous said...

@ Debbie Viess

i take these little red fuckers quite frequently actually, and the deaths are usually mistakes or dumb ass day trippers trying their hands at mushroom hunting. the main reason they paint this as deadly as all hell is the same reason they paint Cannabis as dangerous and deadly, its a free growing drug, impossible to cull completly, just a gift from nature not created by the hands of man. if you take proper Amanita muscaria and dry out the buttons, taking a small dose of it is a pleasant and powerful trip, and for anyone who's been on Peyote, the stomach cramps are negligible. don't do it at home unless you've been learning about mushrooms for a while kids, on this Debbie is correct however don't paint this wonderful fungi with the other Amanita's

Anonymous said...

Also to read more peoples Trip stories which are funny and often hilarious go to Erowid.org

Anonymous said...

Yes, I know this is an old post I'm BUMPing here, but Amanita's are delicious and fairly safe-to-eat. Read the linked article from Debbie if you want to, but please be apprehensive of her bias, as the doctors she quotes in order to solidify her arguments both imply that the "toxicity" is due to the Muscimole creating an inebriated state. If you consider the fact that the "high" makes you feel like you have "died" and are then "re-borne", then it becomes obvious that it would not be an "odd" behavior for someone who did not expect this experience to visit a hospital because they are scared "thinking that they are dying" after ingesting the psychedelic component. Please do not dismiss an easily accessible food source just because it could make you high... Just be sure to cook them correctly, and not gluttonously eat more than one in a single sitting.

"Certain effects can last for days, but the majority of cases completely recover within 12 to 24 hours. Unlike other toxic mushroom ingestions, vomiting is uncommon. "

and

"The “trip” from Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina is generally not pleasant and involves hospitals more predominately than hallucinations."

amanita muscaria said...

so how do you properly process those "little red fuckers?" and what is an appropriate "little red fucker" dosage?