Taste the Fungus

By Nieriel Raina


In The Wilds

January 3019 Third Age


“You have to at least try them!”


The elf shook his head adamantly side to side, his lips pressed firmly shut against the spoonful of mushrooms and herbs. “Mmm Mmm,” he hummed.


“Now, Mister Legolas,” Sam chimed in, coming to stand next to Pippin, who was trying his all to get the elf to at least taste the fungus. “It’s my cooking, and I ain’t never cooked nuthin’ that wasn’t good to eat. That’s my gaffer’s recipe too. So, you just open up and taste ‘em.”


Legolas cast a pleading glance at Aragorn, who rolled his eyes and turned away, his hand suspiciously covering his mouth as his shoulders shook. A glance towards Gandalf garnered a similar response. Gimli, much to Legolas’ relief, had excused himself and headed into the brush a few minutes ago, so he was spared any verbal barbs. Merry was frowning at him, and Frodo simply ducked his head with a soft smile. Only Boromir looked sympathetic to his plight, grimacing at the limp fungus resting on the spoon in front of Legolas’ mouth.


“Maybe he doesn’t like mushrooms,” Merry finally said, as if the thought had suddenly dawned on him.


“Not like mushrooms! Why, that is the…um…” Sam’s words stumbled to a stop as Legolas shook his head positively.


“Really?” Pippin asked, eyes wide as his eyebrows climbed to his hairline. “How can anyone not like mushrooms?” Legolas was not about to open his mouth to explain, having learned early on that until the spoon was removed, one was not safe from it being shoved in.


“Actually,” Aragorn turned back to them, his amusement contained in his eyes. “I know several elves that dislike mushrooms.”


“Truly?” Frodo asked in interest. “Who?”


“Well, Erestor for one cannot stand them. I recall he threatened to stuff them up Glorfindel’s nose if he didn’t stop trying to get him to eat them one night.”


Legolas looked at the man in shock. He had never seen Elrond’s Chief Councilor get that irate before.


“And Elladan is not fond of them, but Elrohir loves them.”


‘Ah,’ Legolas thought. ‘Now I know how to tell them apart at dinner when they dress identically.’


“Let’s see, who else do I know….” The hobbits were looking at Aragorn curiously, waiting for him to continue. Pippin still held the horrid spoonful of mushrooms in Legolas’ face, though, so Legolas kept his mouth shut. “Oh, yes,” the ranger smirked, “The Elvenking and his son.”


That did it! “Aragorn, you know good and well that…MMmph!”


Too late, the spoon of mushrooms was thrust in and now he only had a couple of options. He could be polite and try to eat them – doubtful. He could spit them out and hurt the hobbits’ feelings – not possible. He could pretend to swallow and then wander off to spit them out – maybe. But whatever, he needed to do it now.


Trying not to grimace, he made the motion of chewing, but the texture and flavor nearly turned his stomach. He needed to inhale!


But it is never a good idea to inhale deeply when one has a mouthful of food, especially through one’s mouth. And so Legolas found himself with a mushroom lodged in his throat. He quickly stood and turned away from his companions, coughing violently. The mushroom dislodged itself and came flying out (along with the others) and he gasped for breath.


“Legolas? Are you alright?” It was Pippin.


But Legolas could now feel his face heating, and tears from the tickle in his throat ran down his face. He started to walk towards the trees, thinking only to flee long enough to compose himself when he heard the soft whisper.


“I’m sorry.”


Wiping his eyes and mouth on his sleeve, he turned to look at a stricken Pippin. He forced a smile. “I am alright, Pippin.” He coughed again, clearing his throat.


“Of all the stupid things to do!” Sam bustled over with a cup of water. “Here, you go, Mister Legolas. I didn’t mean for Pippin to force you like that.”


The young hobbit looked suitably chastised. “I only wanted him to taste them,” he mumbled.


Legolas sipped the water, thankful that it washed the taste of the mushrooms from his mouth. “I apologize. I just cannot abide the taste or texture of mushrooms. I never have. It used to make my mother fuss!”


Pippin grinned and the others chuckled. “And did she fuss at your pop, too?”


Legolas snickered and grinned at the memory. “Oh, yes! I can hear her now.” He pitched his voice high like that of a lady. “Thranduil! You should be setting the example! Eat your mushrooms!”


The others joined in the mirth just as Gimli returned to their camp. “What is so funny?” he asked suspiciously, but no one could stop giggling long enough to explain. The Dwarf grunted. “Very well, keep your secrets!” He dug around in a pouch at his waist. “Sam, I found you some more mushrooms.”


Gimli never did understand why several members of their company suddenly dropped to the ground holding their sides in laughter.




Also check out the companion to this piece, Feast On Mushrooms!


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