The Squilla (plural: Squillae) is a fungus that grows thickly all over Sarvonia, from the Celeste Lowlands in the north to Cape Strata in the south. It is an edible fungus with a delicious spicy flavour that makes it invaluable to Sarvonian cooks. Most races in Sarvonia, including orcs, elves, Brownies, hobbits, and Thergerim, as well as humans, enjoy this fungus as a spice for various foods. It is also known as "Shelfung" (Tharian) "kroch'tlor" (orcish) and "urtumua" (ThergerimTaal).
Image description. The Shelfung growing on gnarled trees in the Silvermarshes. Pic by Faugar.
Squillae are large, stiff fungi that grow anywhere that there is
plenty of moisture. They grow out of the lower trunks of trees that are near
lakes and rivers or growing in swampy areas. Squillae are approximately half
circular in shape, with a rough ridged surface. They are flat on the top but the
underside curves upwards from a thick base to the narrow edges. They resemble
little shelves, hence their nickname “Shelf-fungus”, commonly shortened to
“Shelfung”. They can be as much as two
nailsbreadths thick at the
base and half a palmspan
long. They are a dusty brown in colour, slightly darker than elken brown. The
average Squilla weighs about 1 or 2
muts. The older a Squilla
gets, the stronger its flavour becomes. It also becomes harder. After it reaches
full maturity, it will usually spore within about two weeks (see
Reproduction). Squillae require little
sun and grow best in the shade. If any
spores do happen to reach a sunnier area,
the fungus may grow, but it will be small and shriveled, without much taste.
Territory. This fungus grows throughout the world of Caelereth, in the temperate areas. In Sarvonia it is found most thickly in the areas south of Nyermersys, though it does grow in the Celeste Lowlands in summer, along the banks of the Luquador, Readmeade and Quest Rivers and by the Crystal Lake. It is found in Yamalquain, Nybelmar and on the Isles of R’unor. Compared to the Santharian variety, Shelfung of Northern Sarvonia often grows in denser patches, aren't that stiff and the mushrooms reach much larger sizes and have an even stronger earthy flavour.
This fungus imparts a lovely spicy, smoky flavour to foods. It is the preferred
spice for leveret, forcebread, and poultry, but may be used in almost any
savoury dish. There are two methods of preparation used. The most common is
simply to grate it and store it in a tightly sealed container. It will last for
several months this way. The second method, used with smaller fungi, is to
immerse the whole fungus in oil overnight, after which it will become soft and
spongy. Then it may be chopped finely and used in any recipe. This intensifies
the flavour significantly so it is not normally used with the stronger flavoured
large ones. The domestic pig loves
the scent of this fungus and can be trained to hunt for it, though training the
pig not to gobble it down does take a
bit more work.
Reproduction. Squillae reproduce by producing spores. A Squilla that is ready to spore becomes darker in colour and has a puffier appearance to it. These should not be harvested for eating as they have a very bitter taste. Within a week, the fungus is ready to reproduce. It separates from the tree and falls to the ground, where it bursts, releasing a cloudy dark powdery substance. This contains the spores, which attach on to the nearest tree they touch. They grow throughout the year in the warmer areas of Caelereth, but go dormant in colder places until spring.
Myth/Lore. Though Squilla have no particularl mythological associations, there are various folk beliefs about them. Orcs believe that this fungus will strengthen the blood for fighting, so it is prevalent throughout much of their cookery. They call it the Kroch’Tlor, which translates roughly as “Good Blood”. The Blaa’kr tribe on the Isles of R’unor believe that it enhances sexual potency. Hobbits say that it will increase one’s wisdom. Most races, however, just believe that it tastes good and that is why they add it to their food.
Information provided by Alysse the Likely