It’s around this time of year that you see randomly abandoned vehicles along the side of the road, usually next to woodland, whether pine, beech, or chestnut.
Confused a year ago, we are now well versed in what they are doing but yet to be a part of it!
Mushroom hunting… a national pastime.
We are confident mushroom hunters in the U.K. with knowledge of where to go and what we’ll find and we certainly have our favourite types, but the porcini (cep in English and French) eludes us…
Here, however, in this ‘land of forage’ which delivers seasonal delicacies throughout the year, along field margins, rivers, ditches and forest paths, we feel lost!
We have found more russula types than we knew were possible, more false chanterelles than we’ve ever seen – and not yet a single real one… and who knew how many porcini-looking shrooms there were that are not actually even edible, let alone the elusive porcini?!
This has hugely undermined our confidence (probably a good thing)! Especially when something we would have picked up in the U.K. is kicked or discarded roughly by the side of the forest path – or worse, left un-checked and sitting there proudly with no perceived worth – by a wiser, more experienced mushroom hunter of the abandoned-vehicle type…
And this is the question: have the russulas (brittlegill), agaricus (field and wood mushrooms) and lactarius (milkcaps) we would have picked up in Britain been discarded because they’re a type of ‘bad’ funghi? Or because the hunter merely knows there is something better further along the path?! Let’s face it, when you’re surrounded by porcini and truffles, why would you bother with field or wood mushrooms – or even a chanterelle?!
We have picked loads of funghi, brought them home to check in all our books, only to lose our nerve… A big, bouncy boletus smiled proudly at us for a couple of hours, having gone bright blue on cutting, before we launched it in the bin… Since then, we’ve read more and realised that this was probably the closest boletus to edible that we’ve seen – until we find the elusive porcini!
We have only positively, definitely, without any doubt whatsoever, found woodland and field mushrooms, brittlegills and morels. The morels were tasty, the wood and field shrooms very intense, and the brittlegills we won’t bother with again!
So, once we’re set up with our hotel, we will have a vacancy for a mushroom hunter in residence… applications are open!