Mushrooms are a staple food in my house and we eat them by the box load. They serve as both a side dish and/or the main event, but this has not always been the case. When I was 8 years old I went through a period of refusing to eat them. At that time I had started to collect snails and kept them as pets. I had 10 or 20 of them all different sizes and some of them with beautiful shells the colour of sweets. I dutifully provided them with a box filled with grass, sticks and a few large stones. I kept the box in the back garden and I would check on my pets often.
Whenever we had mushrooms (usually on a Sunday morning as part of our ‘full english’) all I could see were boiled snails and they made me heave. Never having eaten escargot, my childish imagination insisted that mushrooms were exactly like the bodies of snails plucked from their shells and served up grey, warm and watery. Not even my much loved tomato ketchup could entice me to take a bite.
It also did not help that around the same time I had been given a book that documented the flora and fauna of the British Isles. It contained pictures of colourful toadstools, some of which it warned were poisonous and not to be eaten. This coupled with my love for my slow moving friends resulted in me being unable to eat my mushrooms. I have no idea when my aversion passed.
I have neither tried escargot or eaten a poisonous toadstool and I no longer keep snails as pets.