Kanswelele Mushroom

Ark of taste
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Uyoga Mdogo Mweupe

Kanswelele, or Uyoga Mdogo Mweupe as it is also called locally, is the name of a thin, wild, white mushroom that is small in size, never usually growing larger than 5 cm tall. It is said to be a very sweet mushroom, and is locally famous and highly sought after for its good taste, but relatively rare to find in the wild, and about 400 kg are believed to be harvested annually. It is believed to grow in fecal matter and can be found thought the Tabora region of western central Tanzania. It is harvested both for personal or household use and for sale at local markets.

Once harvested, the Kanswelele mushrooms are dried in the sun for two to five days, depending on weather conditions. The dried mushrooms have a cream or yellowish color, and are usually stored in earthenware pots, willow baskets, paper or plastic bags for up to a year with no signs of deterioration. Then, to be used, they are first soaked in cold water for at least 20 minutes, and then washed thoroughly. They are cooked in the same water just as if they were fresh mushrooms. It can be used to give a deeper flavor to vegetable dishes, like the local dish of nsansa.

With youth migration in Tanzania towards cities and away from rural areas where skilled elderly people live, the knowledge of how to gather and use this mushroom is increasingly being lost. Because eating mushrooms gathered in the wild is risky and should not be undertaken by individuals not knowledgeable in mushroom identification, the migration of youth affects the process of handing down this information and know-how over generations, putting the use of this mushroom species in Tanzania at risk of being lost.

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Indigenous community:Nyamwezi