French people are very secretive about mushrooms. They don’t let on where you can find them in case you go and pinch them yourselves.
A close friend of ours will be moving from the area shortly so she thought it time to divulge where she finds her Cèpes and so off we went this weekend, into the woods, foraging for the first time in 12 years.
The first couple of fungi we came across were not what we were looking for and in all honesty we weren’t too sure what we were looking for. And then yes, there it was – a big juicy Cèpe. An hour later and we had gathered enough to give us a side dish of mushrooms that evening. We went back to our friend’s house where she showed us how to prepare them and then came home and worried about eating them for the next 6 hours!
Apparently the English are terrified of wild mushrooms and it dates back to our relationship with the druids and all the superstition that goes with it. Certainly the UK is not really a nation of foragers (well not these days anyway) and the worry that we had picked something poisonous (despite being with someone who had picked mushrooms from that very spot for 20 years or more) was enough to trouble us until the following morning.
We did eat them! I sautéed them with butter and garlic and sprinkled them liberally with fresh flat leaf parsley. Cèpes give off a huge amount of water so it takes a while to cook them.