Saturday, 24 November 2012

champing-yes!




Autumn is text book this year — all misty mornings, sun drenched afternoons after a light rain at night, just a touch of frost. Les champingnons have been poking their mysterious little hats up everywhere, even in our usually bone-dry garden.
The usual seasonal question arose as regular as the other question, which will never be addressed properly, 'shall we buy a chain saw'. We look at them in Bricolage, and then at Mark's money-earning hands and go off to look at wild bird food, or paint.

Oh yes, the seasonal question: Ezra —" can we go and collect mushrooms and cook them?"
I agree and hope he will then forget the idea. Not that I don't want to wander in mossy glens, appreciating nature in all it's yellow and orange splendour. I just have a fear of being shot, this does unfortunately happen each year to the odd mushroom gathering person . . . and a totally normal basic human instinct of eating something that might finish you off.
I've only actually eaten mushrooms once that I have picked: small brown weedy looking things that me and some student friends happened upon, (actually was a major search party), resulting in a jolly little event where our hideous, freezing student dive became a wonderment of glittering coloured lights, warmth, love and celestial twaddle.

Back to the present . . . We went up to a local wood and walked around for quite a long time getting very wet feet. We found the usual bizarre collection of things you definitely would not put anywhere near a cooker. Odd gangly white mushrooms with deadly looking hats, big flat white ones, harmless looking as a slice of 'mother's pride', but with an eeriness about them: eat me, go on, I'm just like a Champignon de Paris, but so much bigger. Why hadn't even the Sanglier touched any of these?
We took some in the basket just to examine later. Back in civilization, in the tiny hamlet of 'Lapayre' where inhabits Monsieur Oui OuiOui, of whom I think I must have blogged about before, we stopped hoping he might be around. He appeared holding a massive armload of ivy stems which he explained the sheep like to eat, rather like a cleanse apparently. We showed him the basket; he tutted, non, non, non and waved an arm in the direction of some pine trees. "La, vous pouvez trouvez les 'Grisettes': Ils sont bien, tout a fait mangeable, oui oui oui. We followed his advice, collected quite a lot of grey moleskin coloured mushrooms, showed him to check, and then went back to the big smoke.

Being still a little apprehensive we showed them to a pharmacy woman. She got her book out and agreed they were what they had been deemed to be, and that we would indeed, not die.
So I cooked them with a bit of garlic and olive oil, said goodbye to the dogs and we ate them.
Not so much as a fart or rumbly tum. Mr Oui Oui Oui, I should never have doubted you.
This weekend, perhaps ceps, or the wonderfully named, 'trompet de la mort', before the frosts close the season.

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