Wednesday 29 October 2008

Mushroom Roulette

After a wonderfully rustic-chic meal at Petersham Nurseries, we left feeling like uplifted and so poor that we needed to forage for our supper... that led us like a truffle hunting spaniel to Richmond Park.

No sooner than we had entered the Park, had I spotted a crop of mushrooms... then some more... and then just one solitary parasol mushroom that simply had to be picked. Cowie agreed to stop the car. I ran out and found not just the delicious parasol mushroom, but also a red, yellow and green mushroom with pores rather than gills! The excitement of finding a mushroom wearing Ghana's football kit was almost too much for me. Was it poisonous? Was it full of polonium? Was it going to contaminate the other, benign mushroom? These were questions to ask John Wright later...

On our walk around the woods we came across loads of fungi in the leaf litter and discarded chestnut casings... it was a picture of Autumn with that deep smell of earth that anyone who lives in the countryside becomes addicted to.

Brown mushrooms

We found some puffballs and a huge "beefsteak" type mushroom that weighed around 2 kgs and was attached to the trunk of a decaying tree. It smelt slightly of vinegar, but had a lovely texture.

We laid out our mushroom haul along the back seat of our car and headed home - unsure whether our cargo was deadly, tasty or just toadstools!

A cup of tea and some nerdy mycology reading later (John Wright's River Cottage Mushroom Book) and we'd managed to identify most of our mushrooms... and to our delight they were not only classified as edible, but also as good eaters!

Common Pufball

We were fairly confident with the Common Puffball, having identified some of these on our mushroom expedition with John Wright. All you have to do is peel the spiney skin off and saute them in some butter and garlic. They are small and a bit fiddly. You're much better off with the Giant variety if you can find them.


Likewise, we were pretty happy that our Parasols were not only edible, but a really good mushroom. Apparently they are great deep fried in breadcrumbs.

Bay bolete book

Now, Cowie was very disturbed at the thought of the Bay Bolete mushroom above. Green, red and yellow - like a traffic light. But as you can see from the picture above, Halloween appearances can be deceptive! It turns out that the Bay Bolete is an excellent mushroom. Similar to a cep. I'd never seen one before so was very excited!

Having identified our shrooms we plucked up the courage to cook them up! I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Bay Bolete

The shrooms

Sauteing Mushrooms

Mushrooms in the pan

Mushroom omelette

Richmond Omelette

It tasted deliciously of danger. Of fear. With a hint of narcotic pleasure. We were a bit underwhelmed by the mushroom flavour. But what it lacked in muchroom taste, it made up in slippy autumnal texture.

We spent the rest of the evening watching the Bourne Ultimatum fearing the worst. I had some psychosomatic tingling in my feet and legs. My throat felt tight. And our tummies did a couple of triple salcos! The noise from our tummies during the night kept most of Balham awake... but we made it through the night and survived to tell the tale. I was a great pains to explain to Emma which mushrooms we had eaten - I even left the book out and the camera with it so Emma could explain what we'd eaten to the toxicologist had it all gone tits up!

We are now keen to visit Mrs Tees, the "Mushroom Legend", down in the New Forrest.


Hollow Legs said...

Did you find any magic ones...?

Good on you for being so brave, I'm not sure I'd trust my judgement!

Browners said...

I don't know what made us so brave!!! We didn't find any magic ones... sadly.

Any exciting news?

Hollow Legs said...

Perhaps because there was two of you - no chickening out!

No exciting news to report unfortunately...

Browners said...

It was quite scary actually. And our tummies have been very noisy ever since!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Well done, you two!

I'd love to go fungi foraging, but have no clue about which are edible and which not.

The book in your photos looks good, though. May I ask who it's by and what the title is? Think I might get me a copy.

Douglas Blyde said...

I have a penchant for a good 'Shaggy' Parasol...

Browners said...

It's a River Cottage Book - by John Wright.

Shaggy Parasols are a lot of fun. But they reduce to nothing when you cook them.

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

I know its a bit late now and everything but the bay bolete that you have pictured is actually a very fine example of the red cracked bolete (the picture on the bottom left of the page) which apparently is quite mushy and not very tasty but harmless. Glad your ok though as i think i have some dried amongst my bays so not so scared to eat them now lol

Paunchos said...

@Anonymous - A bit late now. But this is exactly what John Wright said as well. Makes sense. Thanks!


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