Leaky mushrooms cause Ryanair flight diversion

With the new onslaught of baggage check fees upon us, many people are looking to creative ways to package special items into their carry on. My friend Bruce tried to bring back a cooler full of lobster on one transcon trip a few years back. That ended up tipping over and leaking water all over the guy in front of him.

Something similar happened on Irish carrier Ryanair earlier this month. A passenger trying to transport frozen mushrooms stowed a package in the overhead compartment, but briefly after takeoff the package melted and sauce dripped all over an adjacent passenger.

In this case, however, this passenger had an allergy to the sauce and started to have an adverse reaction. Complaining of problems in his mucous membranes, the passenger became ill and the crew decided to divert into Frankfurt to offload the passenger and send him to the hospital.

Take heed, transporters of food, a little bit of vacuum sealing always helps to keep your food fresh, protected and in its place.

Have some sake with your friend Super Mario

The Gadling crew has been spending a lot of hours in Japan recently. And as I discovered on my recent trip to Tokyo, the Japanese are completely obsessed with video games. The country that is home to Nintendo offers all manner of ways to get your gaming fix. In Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood, I discovered a store that sold nothing but vintage video game consoles, where systems like the Sega Game Gear to Neo Geo were available for purchase. Meanwhile, the gaudy neon-lit streets near Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station are lined with huge multi-story arcades, offering everything from head-to-head Tekken gaming stations to a video game where you can be a DJ with turntables.

This fanaticism for all things video game also extends to Japan’s nightlife scene, which is how I stumbled upon Muteki Mario. Located in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood, Muteki Mario is small bar based around the theme of Nintendo’s most famous video game character, Super Mario. My friends and I went head-to-head on the bar’s Mario Kart Wii game, complete with wireless steering wheels, while imbibing a few of my new favorite cocktail, single-serving glass jars of sake (Japanese rice wine). The bar’s theme even extends to the decor, which includes all manner of Mario and Luigi figurines, power-up mushrooms and star pillows that play the game’s invincible music when you squeeze them.

Part of the fun is trying to find the place…the website isn’t particularly helpful unless you speak Japanese, but I will say that it’s in the neighborhood just northeast of Shinjuku Station. Check the rather plain website and see if your hotel concierge can assist. Whether you’re a video game fanatic or just a casual Mario fan, I promise a hilariously fun night out.

The world’s craziest houses

They say that “home is where the heart is,” but I have to wonder when I look at the at the “Gravity-Defying Homes” gallery over at design site PointClickHome. Perhaps the expression is better written as “home is where the crazy is?” Point Click Home’s gallery features a slideshow of some of the most surreal and interesting houses from around the world, including strange structures in Russia, The Netherlands, Indonesia, the U.S. and Canada, among others.

It’s hard to pick a favorite from this bunch. I think the Russian gangster house wins the award for the poorest planning – it’s probably because the owner was incarcerated before he was able to finish it (no joke). Meanwhile, the Dutch seem to be quite adept at building whimsical houses, offering an assortment of homes in the shape of cacti and cubes. And I have to hand it to the American houses – the “mushroom house” and “pod house” are certainly the most trippy.

While I can’t imagine these bizarre buildings are practical to live in, they certainly make for some great voyeurism. Check out the gallery below to see them all. And if you still haven’t gotten your fill, take a look at Justin’s post last year for some more examples.

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[via Josh Spear]

Mushroom Pickers Unite!

Well, it’s that time of year again in the Czech Republic. Time for those atavistic hunter-gatherer instincts to be unleashed. Thousands of Europeans with crazed looks in their darting eyes, trembling fingers clutching baskets, socks rolled over their pant legs (ticks!), marching, probing, snooping, we stumble through the forests like zombies. We guard our secret spots, we spy on others for their secret spots, we come home lucky, or we come home dejected.

Yes, it’s mushroom-picking time.

With Czechs and Slovaks, at least, it’s an obsession. I’ve heard claims that 80% of us do it at least occasionally. And this is the time of year. A certain combination of weather conditions (usually rain then heat) makes these buggers sprout up, filling the forests. And collect them, we do. It’s a family affair, taking up our weekends. The fuller the basket, the better. They are sauteed, made into soups, dried for the winter.

The kind we hunt is called the “hrib,” also known as the boletus or porcini mushroom (pictured above).

Americans can’t seem to understand this custom, although there is ‘gold in them thar hills': one need only read a recent New Yorker article about the fortunes made mushroom-picking in the woods of Oregon, for example. Wikipedia, in a well down article, lays mushroom picking down as a Slavic custom, only for those braving poisoning, using knowledge passed down for generations.