If you are ever stuck in the woods and looking for a local snack, Mendel is the one you want by your side.
Mendel Skulski began his passion for mushrooms after studying industrial design at Carleton University. He explained that many people come to mushrooms and mycology from a perspective of food and wild foraging, but he came at it from the fascination of a design metaphor: the idea of mushrooms and fungi being the connection between all sorts of organisms and plants in the forest. “Trees are actually sharing sugars between each other and sharing chemical signals through a fungal network that lives in the soil and lives on their roots.” After learning about this symbiotic relationship and the invaluable role mushrooms play in the ecosystem, Mendel soon became obsessed. After years of self-education on fungi, he became involved in, and eventually president of, the Vancouver Mycological Society. He has been active in this role for the past two years.
Just before talking to us on his lunch break Mendel was walking around the woods picking thimbleberries and huckleberries. “Summer is great for berries, fall is great for mushrooms,” he remarked, “I’m always happy.”
Mendel talked to us about “fungal prejudice”, the invasive blackberry, his connection to Judaism, poisonous mushrooms, mushrooms that taste like maple syrup, and his cooking rituals. We’re looking forward to sharing this with you in an upcoming episode of The Kitchen Stories podcast.