The Cardoncello Mushrooms were already particularly appreciated during the Middle Ages not only for their qualities related to taste but also for their alleged aphrodisiac powers due to which they were objects of censorship by the Holy Office which by means of an edict of the Popes, forbade the innkeepers of the time to serve the “sinful” mushroom to the faithful on pilgrimage to Rome in the jubilee years. It was believed that eating “ferlengi” (Cardoncello was called frlengo in northern Lazio) encouraged people to commit “sins of the flesh”.
Until the 1970s when Cardoncello was still present in large quantities spontaneously, it was called “the meat of the poor” and this probably due to its particular consistency.
Cardoncelli Mushrooms come in a fair variety of shapes and colours, from the pure white of the highly prized Cardoncello bianco, to the more well-known gray-brown which lightens the more the mushroom grows exposed to the sun.
The pulp is fleshy and compact and gives off a slight smell of bread dough and fennel seeds, the taste is sweet and pleasant even raw, so much so that it can be eaten as a carpaccio.
Its remarkable nutritional properties make it ideal for any type of diet, in the fresh state they contain on average 85-90% of water, 4-5% of sugars, 3.8-4% of proteins, and only 0.4- 0.7% fat, as well as all the essential amino acids and numerous vitamins, such as biotin present in extremely unusual dosages. All in the face of only 28 calories per 100 grams.
Excellent sautéed, au gratin, fried or to make an excellent risotto or a very fragrant sauce to season pasta; delicious roasted in the oven with potatoes to accompany large lamb or sausage dishes.