Monday, 16 November 2009
October did exist in mi vida deliciosa...
But for most of the month it was in el bosque...the forest.
October was lost in a wave of bolets...wild mushrooms!!!!!!!!That and starting back to work(kind of)with a group of mamas from the village making wallets,jellewery and playing with textiles and,and,and more about that later...
This is my food blog...if I had time to make a blog about wild mushrooms and wild foods I would...I,d need a separate blog to express the strange sheer wild wonderful thing it is to go mushroom picking.But for now I,ll see if I can write a few lines of fungal frolics...
About 3 or 4 years ago I was living in the centre of Barcelona ...and I wanted to do a course on mushroom picking...At the same time I and boyfriend where looking for a place in the countryside...We had dreams of living in a big Masia( stone farm house)learning about wild foods having a huge garden in the middle of nowhere.
Instead we found the perfect house in a small village...I knew it was for me when the next door neighbour Placida said she,d teach me about mushrooms and show me where to find them.
I had stuck gold...that and having a tofu factory and wholefoods distribution company beside our future home.But this village has more...loads of local produce...two of the largest organic wholesalers in the country,a wild mushroom canning business,and loads of wild fig trees,walnut trees etc etc etc.Up in forest(theres a national park all around us)theres loads of Dolmens and standing stones...I could not believe my luck.
That and my village is one of the best places in Catalunya to find Mushrooms.Yes, theres photos of this village in mushroom books.I had found my home.
The first year we eagerly searched the woods and arrived back with a huge box of mushrooms...We showed the neighbour who threw them all away.All bad,poisonous or unknown. Our hearts sunk.It seemed impossible to learn because there was so many types.
But Placida kept true to her promise and she showed us where to find Fredolics-or tricholama terreum...a beautiful smokey grey mushroom with a velvety smooth cap and a rich mushroom taste.The next time we learnt where to find Rovellons and Pinetells(lactarius deliciosus).Then Carlets and Chantarelles.Thank you lovely Placida for teaching us.
Wild mushrooms grow in the same place every year so make sure you remember where you found them.These places are gold dust...I,ve heard grown up adults lying about where they found the mushrooms-they,re like kids...and they get very jealous if you find too many.
Every week we,d find a new type ,a new mountain or forest to go looking.After the first year we could identify around twenty and were officially boletaires(experts in mushroom picking or at least addicted to mushroom hunting).
I knew it was an addiction when I dreamt about mushroom hunting...I jest-not.
Every year we look in the forest at least two weeks too early ...we just can,t wait.
Its about putting on wellies(wellington boots)with the basket on one arm and the other holding a walking stick hopefully found in the forest and lovingly brought along on every mushroom hunting expedition.
It,s about walking in beautiful forests.
It,s about imagining the mushrooms you want to find before you do...then they turn up miraculously although almost covered with camouflaged oak leaves.
It,s about the smell of the forest and mushrooms and the damp in the air.
It,s about bringing a basketful home and eating incredibly delicious surprising food thats only available for a month or two.
Theres so much to learn and enjoy about wild mushroom picking.Every country has them...In Ireland my memories are of the great big field mushrooms which were wasted on me as a child as I didnt like mushrooms(shame)but I know they must be a lot more there.There was a fear of poisonous fungi which I fully understand but once you get to know a mushroom it seems hard to make a mistake.Stick to one or two that you cant confuse with any other and go from there.
I recommend finding a course,an elderly expert neighbour and loads of books...which help to identify mushrooms unknown and unusual.
It would make an interesting holiday abroad doing a mushroom course...I,d love to travel to Canada or Poland or China and get to know their fungi types.
The big thing about mushroom hunting is that you find a tremendous respect for the forest and a big earth love.You appreciate each mushroom for it,s unique flavours.Please pick only what you will use or share...gluttony can happen...but there are many mushrooms suitable for drying or freezing.
Pick up your rubbish and others.
Do not rake the ground because it damages the root system...and always cut the mushroom with a knife at the stem.
Drying porcini or ceps are a luxury when eaten in February in a risotto.
The range of textures and flavours of mushrooms for a vegetarian (or other) is amazing...so much room for experimenting in the kitchen.
The best recipe for trying a new mushroom is sauteing it in the pan with some garlic and chopped parsley.Keeping it simple the first time gives you an idea of it,s nature.
The best way to clean mushrooms is with a brush.
If a mushroom is very dirty you can soak them in water but they plump up and add a lot of liquid to the cooking.
For moisture filled mushrooms I recommend heating a frying pan with no oil ,add mushrooms and wait until all the juices have evaporated and reduced back into the mushrooms...then add olive oil( or half oil half butter)and fry to your desired texture leaving the garlic and chopped parsley to the last minute.
Each Mushroom has some very unique flavours so I recommend getting specific mushroom cookery books...I love Antonio Carluccios"Complete Mushroom Book"or Roger Phillips"Wild Food".Fat of the land blog is great for mushrooms and wild foods in general. Different countries suffer from food snobbery and cultures which might belittle some mushrooms as average when cooked in a certain way they can be spectacular...So make your own assessments on edible mushrooms ...and enjoy!