5.11.07

The calling

The mushroom season is late. No rain, just heavy autumn mists. But at last, something called from deep within the woods...



...it might have been the death groans of this monstrous Earthball...a grotesque behemoth, and sadly inedible.




It could have been the trilling of this little dandy chap, an Orange Peel fungus, from the Elf Cup family. Lovely to look at, apparently edible according to this site, but not to our guide books - and more fit left as a jewel in the grass than fried in the pot...




... or was it the bellowing of a big shambling herd of Shaggy Parasoles, caught by Andy in a clearing, and quickly harvested before they could escape?





Perhaps it was the thin and reedy keening of the Sulphur Tuft, sickly yellow, and horribly poisonous - unless you are a woodland creature. Under the pine plantation, where the badgers thrive in their underground metropolis, they are nibbled and uprooted beneath the November moon.




But no, the call was the joyous song of our first Wood Blewits; a perfect match in the book I have had since I was eight. Lavender in colour, meaty in texture, and just waiting for my little knife to cut them free from the bonds of the piney earth.




Every cap is checked for internal inhabitants, wiped clean and fried - especially the dear little Wood Blewits, which need to be cooked thoroughly to avoid the mild allergic reaction they can produce in some people. Puffballs are examined for the slightest sign of yellowing, and discarded if not pristine white inside. The only time I gave myself an upset stomach from a wild mushroom was by eating an aging Puffball when I was eleven. Never again.



Into the pot, with five roasted chicken thighs, a tin of black eyed beans, sauteed leek, various bits of This and That, garlic, herbs, gravy...left in a medium oven for a couple of hours...and eaten before anyone had time to take a photo...




There is so much studio work to be done. But at this time of year, when the calling is strongest, half of my heart lies here...


19 comments:

Joanna said...

Things are looking up I feel, I saw just a few mushrooms in the woods at the weekend and a not long dead partridge, which I wished you could of seen with its handsome coat of feathers

carolyn said...

My heart always lies in the woods or at the sea but I would never dare to eat the fungi. When the children were younger we would get up early and go on mushroom hunts bringing home all sorts of stuff, checking their names against the mant books and taking spore prints. They would then be deposited at the bottom of the garden. After several years the mushrooms started to appear there as if by magic!

Rima said...

Hooray for the call of the woods :)
Glad you are enjoying my few blog words.. no it isn't THE accordion .. that is in pride of place in our living room, but alas has lost its singing voice for good I think. I play a snazzy new accordion that I bought wiv me own cash from painting jobs! Um pah um pah ... enjoy your mushrooms x

violeta said...

hello!!!!...I liked your blog!!...really...it´s very interesting....and I think your photos are excellent!!!!...

in those photos the autumn is beautiful...

best wishes!!!!...and have a nice day!!!

:)

Caroline B said...

I so admire you for knowing which fungus is edible and which isn't - I'm sure I'd end up poisoning myself! My mother used to take us mushrooming but I've forgotten all I was taught. It's a shame all the 'old' knowledge gets lost.

tlc illustration said...

I hear you... Not much calls louder than wild mushrooms from the woods...

Sue said...

I bet wild mushrooms taste a world away from the beige plasticcy ones in Tescos, sweating under their cellophane.
That casserole looks good, too!

Cotswoldgent said...

We are getting too alike you and I!
I was only picking some mushrooms last weekend and thinking that you would probably be doing the same thing....lo and behold!

Libbys Blog said...

I would be too scared to eat anything mushroom like unless I had a book like yours, I'd probably kill myself!!!!!!!!!!

Eric Orchard said...

Wonderful shots of the mushrooms. You should be writing Gretel, you write so eloquently and have such a knack for up rooting beautiful words.

PG said...

Ah thanks Eric, if only all the publishers I send my writing out to thought like you did...but alas, I mrely have a fine collection of rejection letters. :)

tim relf said...

You've made me hungry now!

tash said...

The mushrooms at the back of our house all look incredibly deadly - though I'm told by reliable sources (Hugh's mushroom man) that there isn't a deadly mushroom, just ones that make you wish you were dead... But I'm not even brave enough to go there!

We did find a stinkhorn in the woods, which was interesting and very phallic (made for some jokes...)!

I bet your meal was delicious - I don't blame you going off into the woods either, much prettier at this time of year :)

Merisi said...

That lovely woodsy earthy smell wafting over from your parts, thanks for sharing it with us!
May your work run smoothly and an escape into the woods possible every now and then,
all the best,
M.

natural attrill said...

How wonderful to go out and collect mushrooms, somthing I have never done, and then make a feast with them, I'm feeling hungry now too.
Hope all is well for you.
P.x

Becca said...

This may well be my favorite post of all blogs of all time. I am completely fascinated by your bravery in harvesting wild mushrooms. As a true fan of them, I am now emboldened to go out and buy a book about them and go hunting for them myself. The bluets are absolutely beautiful - even if they were not edible. Your stew sounds delicious. The photos are great. Clearly, I have really enjoyed this post ... thanks so much.

Soozcat said...

Ohhhohohohohhh... I'm drooling freely. There must be some hobbit lines in my family somewhere because I'm obsessed with mushrooms.

About a decade ago I picked up a field guide to edible North American mushrooms (which I've not yet had occasion to use). The Olympic Peninsula's wet, fungus-filled rainforests are calling. *yooooo hoooooo*

Amongst The Oaks said...

Hi PG,
I too admire mushrooms and have had a book for ages, but I've never been brave enough to eat any I find. I've got a dandy photo of a giant yellow thing on a tree. I'll post it on my blog soon and you can tell me what it is. Hugs, Laura

Christine said...

I haven't seen that many mushrooms about this year, its been a very odd sort of year so far. I have seen a few common puffballs so far.