May 2023 Meeting
Monday, May 15th at 7:30 p.m.
Sparr Heights Community Center
Speakers: Rudy Diaz, Jess Starwood, and Bat Vardeh
Program 1: "The Demon 'Why?' in Evolution" by Rudy Diaz

In observing in nature, it becomes apparent that living things express certain qualities to meet certain end goals. For example, fungi produce mushrooms to fulfill the task of their dispersal, and enzymes take on specific configurations to fulfill specific roles in chemical reactions.

Granted the wide range of functions exhibited in biological structures across the tree of life, it can be difficult to reconcile their apparent purposeful-ness with the scientific consensus that they resulted from pure chance. Theological objections aside, the more pernicious impediment for public understanding of evolution is that most subscribers to Darwin accept the premise with mistaken interpretations of natural selection and "adaptation."

LAMS Mycologist Rudy Diaz will present a logical argument for life as both purposeful matter and random occurrence through a series of imaginary scenarios which boil down to a single question — "Why?"

Program 2: "The Hunt for Umami: The Captivating Flavors of Wild Mushrooms" by Jess Starwood

What is it that compels us into the forest, driving and/or hiking many miles every season in search of fungi to fill our dinner plate? The flavor of umami—or, the "essence of deliciousness" in Japanese, is one of the key, yet vague, contributors of flavor in mushrooms. But what exactly is it and how can we utilize it when creating a flavorful and nutritious dinner? Most mushrooms are described simply as "earthy" or "mushroomy." But step into the forest and the flavor profiles expand to nutty, meaty, seafood-like, cinnamon, sweet, citrusy, or peppery and beyond. While the debate is on about which is the tastiest mushroom, the culinary world of wild mushrooms and their possibilities are expanding quickly.

Program 3: "How Not To Die: Mushroom Hunting Edition" by Bat Vardeh

Mushroom foraging can be enjoyed by everyone when it's done safely. Bat will teach you her tips and tricks to live to forage another day. There are old foragers and bold foragers, but never both!

Jess and Bat talk (Rudy's talk did not get recorded...see May 2023 State of LA Fungi where he rereads his talk)