Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Colonies and India says— "Among the various articles of trade exported .from New Zealand perhaps the most curious is a species of fungus which grows on decaying trees iii all parts of the North Island, but most plentifully in the provincial district of Taranaki. In shape this fungus resembles the human ear, and it is of a Drown cjopur and semi-transparent when fresh. [It was not deemed of sufficieat importance to be ineluded in the list of colonial exports until 1872, when 58 tons, the value of whichtwas £1.927, were shipped; in 1877, 220 tons, valued at £11,318, were exported; and last year the value of the export was £6,227. China is the destination of this product.' It is much prized there as an article of food, forming the chief ingredient of the favorite soup of that country on account of its gelatinous properties and its peculiar flavour. Whether the immigrant Chinese, who were more numerous in New Zealand five years ago than they are now, discovered the virtues of this fungoid growth, or whether the Maoris, with their naturally keen wit, hit upon the idea that the substance would just suit the peculiar tastes of the Chinese, does not appear. The European in the colony, however, have never acquired a taste for it. To prepare this fungus foe export, nothing morels required than to pick it from the trunks of the trees and dry it in the air or under sheds. When dry, it is packed in bags aud shipped to China by way of Sydney or San Francisco. Very few white men, except those of idle, dissipated habits, collect fungus. The children of the small bush farmers, however, often keep themselves in pocket money by gathering it and selling it to the dealers. The task of collecting it is one, too, which just suits the Maori disposition. When the natives are in want of funds for tobacco, or desire to raise the wherewithal to provide tie large feasts which it is their delight to give periodically, they send out parties to the busVwho; bring in fungus in large quantities' for Sale." Wanganui Herald, Volume XVI, Issue 4562, 9 January 1882, Page 2

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