I think this fear and disgust comes from the fact that mushrooms are so clearly alive but, as you say, feed on death. As Martha Nussbaum said in last Sunday’s NYTimes Magazine, “The common property of all these primary disgust objects is that they are reminders of our animality and mortality.”
Look at the names in these mushroom diagrams: Volva, Annulus, Flesh, Spines, Warts…mushrooms remind us of our own bodies.
Mostly, of course, mushrooms are phallic. We fear and disgust them in the same way we do a horse’s penis. Speaking of which, I’m a little worried that your last name refers to someone who performs animal castration.
What exactly are you doing over at Gelder Head Productions?
ps. I didn’t know Mr. Sultan. I only have two friends.