Mushroom Luncheon Down Under

Written by on November 20, 2023

Mushroom Luncheon Down Under – by Liam Sweeny.

Amanita Phalloides. A.k.a. The Death cCp mushroom. They were like “let’s name this thing what it does. They debated the scientific name, opting for a tamer name than the previous idea, eaticus killicus. They grow in the states. You know where else they grow? Australia. You know who really knows this? Erin Patterson, who hosted a lunch with them cooked alongside a Beef Wellington and killed four people.

I wish I could say that this was an egregious culinary error, and I’ll bet Erin wishes people would believe that when she says it, but the cops down under aren’t buying it. In fact, they just arrested her. Three counts of murder, five of attempted.

It doesn’t seem like Erin Paterson had an iron-clad reason for killing her lunch crowd. With the exception of her ex-husband, who fell ill three separate times after eating her meals, she had no problems with the rest. Hell, they went to her house for the luncheon. And she served Beef Wellington – ‘well’ is in the name. It’s not the kind of meal you’d want to poison, am I right? Chicken nuggets and strychnine, sure. Chili and cyanide? Why not? But Beef Wellington? If you’re cooking that for people you’re trying to kill, you’re really trying there.

A lot of the evidence for her guilt is piecing together things, a lot from social media. On the one hand, it’s an open and shut case. Trailis Convicticus. But when you look at the fact that she admits to putting mushrooms in the meal, but didn’t know they were Death Caps, I mean, is that a tough sell?

Poisoners are the darlings of mystery novels. You can have a character become a willing participant in a crime with scopolamine (if you stretch) or have them awake but paralyzed with Tetradotoxin (from the puffer fish) or you can just straight get the job done with any number of chemical delicacies. But poisoners are particularly attracted to poison.

So maybe Erin Patterson is a poisoner. Or maybe she had remarkably poor luck picking a market that didn’t know what they had. You be the judge. But I’ll say it’s pretty ballsy to kill your whole family at the dinner table with fungi.


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