Shaggy mane mushrooms earned themselves the nickname "lawyer's wig" because of their large cylindrical caps that are topped with large, shaggy scales, creating an appearance similar to that of a British lawyer's wig. Shaggy mane mushrooms once provided writing ink in the days of George Washington with their "inky cap," or Coprinus comatus, the liquefied cap of the mushroom that forms within one to two days of its maturation. They are also incredibly strong, as they can grow through asphalt, lifting it into the air and causing fragmentation as they move upward, according to the Mycological Society of San Francisco.
Shaggy mane mushrooms are valued for their robust flavor, though they must be eaten before they begin to liquefy for optimum taste. They don't cause harm if consumed after liquefaction begins, but their flavor lessens and texture becomes slimy and less appetizing. Vietnamese villagers transport their shaggy mane mushrooms inverted in egg shells to keep them from liquefying too quickly, states the Mycological Society of San Francisco.
Shaggy mane mushrooms cook quickly and don't need to be cut into smaller pieces. The taste is aromatic and is known to transfer easily to the foods and liquids cooked with it. Pastas, soups, dairy dishes and poultry dishes are often good pairings for these mushrooms.