"I see nothing but good things in mushrooms!"

Carmen Ordiz is the host of Gastronomia's G gastronomic podcast, which you can listen to on her Spotify channel. A podcast during which we tackle a passion that affects many of us: gastronomy.

This fall, we started a collaboration with G de Gastronomia to talk about various topics related to truffles and mushrooms.

In this first chapter, Carmen talks to Mikel Lazcano, chef and true lover of the mushroom world, as seen on his Instagram (@kelocook) and YouTube channel.

Hello and welcome, Mikel. Can you define and explain what you do?

Thank you for inviting me to your podcast, Carmen. I define myself as a lover of the mushroom world and gastronomy. I have been working as a cook for over 21 years and of course I love cooking mushrooms. I am currently the cook for Athletic Bilbao's professional football teams, both male and female.

Tell us what it's like to work with high-level professionals.

They are very grateful. Eventually, they eat like normal people, but being in such a professionalized world, they have to eat healthily and more carefully. I am the cook, but we are also supported by nutritionists who know the players' condition and set us limits.

You define yourself as a big fan of the mushrooms world. Where does this passion come from?

I love autumn. As a child, I used to go with my father to collect mushrooms, and if I didn't know which variety they were, I would pick them up and look for them in mycology books. Now I have the chance to combine my two great passions: mycology and gastronomy. Thus, I can make the most of the mushrooms: when I go into the woods to collect them, I can disconnect and enjoy the moment as much as when I have to cook them.

In the documentary 'Fantastic Fungi' you can see how wonderful and complex fungi are. How do fungi grow in forests?

When I walk in the forest, I often think, "How can these wonders come out of the ground?" And you study, and you learn little by little... Fungi differ from the animal and plant world in that they have no roots and cannot photosynthesise because they have no chlorophyll. They are helped by the trees, there is a beneficial symbiosis for both. The tree needs the mushroom and vice versa.

It is clear that mushrooms are very intelligent.

That’s right. The part we see in the forest is the reproductive organ, but underneath, in the soil, there is a network of mini-roots (which cannot be called roots because they are not roots, they are called hyphae) which create a mycelium; and it is through this that they communicate with the trees and exchange the elements necessary for their survival.

Mushrooms can even help the functioning of our own gut flora.

Mushroom is a probiotic food that contributes to the health of the intestinal flora and is very beneficial for our health. It is also used in mycotherapy, which is very popular at the moment.

Speaking of which... what are the benefits of mushrooms?

Mushrooms are a low-fat, low-calorie food and provide us with rapidly absorbed vitamins that are very useful for our bodies. They are also very filling. I see nothing but good things...

Now that we are talking so much about the immune system since COVID.... Can we consider that mushrooms can help us improve our immune system?

Of course. All these minerals such as magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, copper... are beneficial. The St George's mushroom, for example, can help reduce blood sugar levels: it is an anti-diabetic mushroom. There are also mushrooms that help fight cancer, such as the famous oyster mushroom. Besides, you will find a lot of mushrooms in a well-preserved forest.

And if you go to a forest where there are a lot of mushrooms, you have to be very careful about the mushrooms you pick...

Of course, you should never pick those that you do not know or that cannot be validated by an expert. Make sustainable pickups and take your basket with you so the spores can spread.

Let's move on to gastronomy, which we love so much. How to cook mushrooms?

The good thing about mushrooms is that they are super versatile. For example, imagine the mushroom, which is one of the most consumed foods in the world. There are all kinds of mushrooms, with different flavors, different textures, each season has its own different mushrooms, and there are also cultivated mushrooms... On top of that, mushrooms can be dehydrated and stored for a long time... it's a real gift from the forest. All this is very beneficial.

Where can we learn to cook mushroom recipes?

On my YouTube channel Kelo Cook, you can find all kinds of mushroom recipes. Recipes with girolles, Caesar's muschroom, the horn of plenty... which is a mushroom that looks great in sweet desserts.

What recipes can you recommend?

There are many... I tell you, they are very versatile: you can make risotto dishes, apple tarts with girolles, mushroom croquettes, accompany them with a tuna tartare, cook a Saint-Georges' mushroom on a bain-marie so that it acquires a soft and delicious texture...

This work you are doing is very important, because people lack confidence when it comes to cooking certain mushrooms, and knowing all these techniques is a bonus to encourage them to cook mushrooms.

That’s it. Be creative with your recipes and make the most of the mushroom season.

That is what we will do. Thank you for the interview Mikel.

Thanks to you. Goodbye

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