When my grandma asked me one day if I wanted to go with her to the forest and pick mushrooms, I of course immediately agreed. I liked my grandma. Very much so.
So I, a little elementary school student, walked through the forest with her and had her explain to me which mushrooms were edible and which were not. Again and again we pulled mushrooms out of the ground and collected them in a basket, making the scene sound almost too cliché to be true. But it was. The weather was pleasantly warm, the forest provided shade, mushrooms were collected and I enjoyed the time.
Then, on the way home, I realized there was one thing I hadn’t considered. With the words “And now let’s make a delicious mushroom soup.” my grandma reminded me that I didn’t like mushrooms. And not at all. The taste, the texture, the appearance… nothing about mushrooms even grazed my taste buds, and not even the best auto-aim feature on a console game could have changed that.
But it was too late for excuses. Actually, I could have guessed it. You don’t go to the bakery and buy fresh cake and then not eat it. I knew I couldn’t come up with a reasonable excuse to avoid the mushroom soup.
I had only one option: to tell my grandma that I didn’t like mushrooms. There was only one problem. And that problem was hidden in the first paragraph, “I liked my grandma. Very much so.” And the sound of her voice as she announced the preparation of the mushroom soup made it impossible for me to disappoint her. The day had been so beautiful. And I wanted her to remember it this beautiful forever.
So I choked down the mushroom soup spoon by spoon. Over and over again, I moved mushroom after mushroom toward my mouth, put it in, chewed on it in disgust, and delivered it to my stomach. Bite by bite, I became more and more uncomfortable. The feeling of having to throw up became stronger and stronger. It wasn’t necessarily the taste of the soup. It was the consistency of the mushrooms. The texture. The softness. The gooey. The rennet-like. The feeling of chewing, if you can even call it chewing. Like crushing wet boogers with your teeth. Pulling mold from a juice bottle left out in the sun and crushing it in your mouth. Collecting pus on a plate and letting it dry a bit, then eating it.
I ate my plate completely. And the second one, which every grandma gives you when you eat at her place, of course. I didn’t let on. I fought a hard-fought duel with my stomach’s suggestion to break the whole thing off by vomiting. I won the duel. And although I won, I had also lost something at the same time. Namely, the possibility of ever being able to eat mushrooms again.
Shroomchitect achieves a real feat. It takes me back to the time before the soup announcement. Back to the days of walking through the woods with my grandma and pulling mushrooms out of the ground. Looking at each of them calmly and from all sides. Every now and then my grandma would cut pieces out of them to show or explain something to me. Each mushroom was a small, fascinating world about which there was much to learn. I had long forgotten this tranquility. It has long been displaced by the feeling of disgust.
I have already spent many hours in the world of Shroomchitect. There is only one goal here: build a small house in a mushroom. There are no targets, you can not lose, you are just for yourself. I looked at mushrooms with an interest I haven’t felt in a long time. Every mushroom is full of potential. You just have to look very carefully.
In the meantime, my grandma is no longer alive. But I will never forget the day with the mushrooms. Only the focus of the story has shifted a little. Instead of the mushroom soup I think of the time in the forest. The searching, the collecting, the looking and the listening. Actually, it was a beautiful day after all. And I just hope that my grandma remembered it the same way.
In Shroomchitect you build houses in mushrooms. Basically, that’s all there is to it. And that’s a good thing too. The game is available at itch.io. I also played it on my youtube channel.
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