The magic of mushrooming

On Monday, I attended a meeting of the BrittanyGardenersClub (www.BrittanyGardenersClub.com) to give a little speech about why I go mushrooming.

I’m not all that used to Public Speaking (and haven’t been since I was an IT manager in the City of London and had to give speeches to people that I was about to make redundant!)

But, you know, it wasn’t so bad – the people were nice and I sort of enjoyed it! So much so that I’ve decided that if you are part of a group who would like to listen to some guy waffle on about mushrooming – give me a call. All I ask is that you are resident in Brittany, France; that’s where I live now – I’m happy there – I’m not keen to travel too far!

forest_01_pd_602x533.jpg This image is in the Public Domain. For details see… Licenses Contributor = Anon


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Mushrooming Knives

One of the very nice things about mushrooming as a hobby is the low cost of starting out. A basket, a knife, a few guidebooks – that’s about it.

Of all these, perhaps it’s the knife that becomes the most personal of all. Part of the mushroom collector’s “code of honor” is to take the mushroom without disturbing the delicate mycelium, the underground infrastructure of the mushroom.

In order to do this correctly the mushroom collector needs a knife with the right shaped blade. It is also helpful to have a brush to clean the dirt off the mushroom.


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Boletus Edulis – Videos

I have listed here, videos of some of the mushrooms that I can expect to find on my forays.  Some of the videos are my own, others come from YouTube.

I would like to warn you that the information that follows is only intended to be a rough guide to the species that I watch out for. It, in no way, aims to replace a good Mushrooming Guide Book and years of experience. If I make a mistake and, as a result, end up in a coffin – well, that’ll be my fault and I’ll only have myself to blame! If you are picking mushrooms for consummation, you just need to be so careful!

The Cep (Boletus Edulis) is the most exciting find (for me), in the forest. This is the one that all my neighbours will ask me about. This is the one that is the measure of my mushrooming skill or luck.


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Boletus Edulis – Images

The Cep (Boletus Edulus) is the most exciting find (for me), in the forest. This is the one that all my neighbours will ask me about. This is the one that is the measure of my mushrooming skill or luck.

Even people who can’t cook will be able to make something delicious with this mushroom; selling at 25 euros a kilo in the supermarket (when they have got them), a few hours in the forest on an Autumn Sunday morning can be a really profitable exercise.

Those of my friends and neighbours who only go mushrooming once a year will be looking for this mushroom. And for 6 weeks or so, every Autumn, the bars will be full of gossip about who has found what and where, and who’s luck wasn’t so good.


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Chanterelle – Images

The Chanterelle (Cantharellus Cibariuss) is a wonderful find for me.  With a few of these in my basket, I’ll be salivating all the way home from the forest.

One of the most prized and sought after wild mushrooms, Chanterelles taste exquisite and have a beautiful apricot aroma with a slightly peppery taste.

In the kitchen they are suprisingly robust and stand up better to cooking than many other mushrooms; managing to preserve their taste and characteristics over a wide range of cooking treatments.


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Boletus Edulis

Cep Cepe de Bordeaux
Steinpilz Porcino
Boned Touseg Spiselig Rorhat

The Cep (Boletus Edulis) is the most exciting find (for me), in the forest. This is the one that all my neighbours will ask me about. This is the one that is the measure of my mushrooming skill or luck.

Even people who can’t cook will be able to make something delicious with this mushroom; selling at 25 euros a kilo in the supermarket (when they have got them), a few hours in the forest on an Autumn Sunday morning can be a really profitable exercise.

Those of my friends and neighbours who only go mushrooming once a year will be looking for this mushroom. And for 6 weeks or so, every Autumn, the bars will be full of gossip about who has found what and where, and who’s luck wasn’t so good.


Read more about… Boletus Edulis


Cantharellus Cibarius

Chanterelle Girolle
Pfifferling Galletto
Do you know the name? Almindelig Kantarel

The Chanterelle (Cantharellus Cibarius) is a wonderful find for me. With a few of these in my basket, I’ll be salivating all the way home from the forest.

One of the most prized and sought after wild mushrooms, Chanterelles taste exquisite and have a beautiful apricot aroma with a slightly peppery taste.

In the kitchen they are suprisingly robust and stand up better to cooking than many other mushrooms; managing to preserve their taste and characteristics over a wide range of cooking treatments.


Read more about… Cantharellus Cibarius


A fruitless foray

As it was such a beautiful morning, Jill and I decided to go out for a quick walk in the woods.

It would be our first time since we moved here two weeks ago.

Obviously, neither of us expected to find anything but, we took the basket just in case.

One of the nice things about living in Bains sur Oust is our proximity to the forest. Back at Les Croix, it used to take 40 mintues for me to walk into the forest. Now, don’t get me wrong, I used to enjoy the walk but… here I am just 3 minutes walk from the woods. I think that will mean many more mushrooming forays for me!


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A friend I never knew

It’s strange that I call him a friend, even though I never met him (nor did I ever speak to him, email him or phone him up!)

Still, strange as it may be, I count Peter Jordan as a friend.

You see, when I first moved to France to start my new and simple life, one of the books I brought over with me was The New Guide to Mushrooms by Peter Jordan.

And, as I started to mushroom, it was that book that guided me. It was that book that I read and re-read until I could practically memorise it.

So many times did that book come into the forest with me, I swear it knew its way home better than I did!

Today, as I was working on this site, I had his book on the desk in front of me and I thought that it was about time to email the man and let him know how important his book had become to me.


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Another early start

Another early morning, the cats can’t understand it. I went into the forest on foot and headed over to the South-East of the forest. I don’t know if they were out visiting or still in bed but, there was no sign of the family of deer

I wasn’t expecting to get many mushrooms as the Eastern side of the forest is not as productive as the Western side. It was, thus, a surprise to come across a Cep almost straight away – a good start!

I like the walk around the Eastern side of the forest; it gives me time to think and, if I get it right, I tend to pop out of the forest on the Western side near the village of Lanouee. Lanouee has 3 bars – it’s strange that I often end up there?


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An early start

Well, no trouble getting up, this week. I’ve been looking forward to this so much that I woke up every hour, on the hour, though the night.

It was worth the effort as 3 hours wandering round the North of the forest yielded just over 3 kilos of mixed mushrooms. I put about a kilogram of the best, the Ceps, in a basket for Madam (my landlady) and shall be using some of the rest in a sort of slow cooked risotto that I discovered by accident and then found out that the author (and foodie), Julian Barnes has discovered the same thing himself.


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Lost….twice!

What should have been a great start to the real mushrooming year got off to a bad start on Saturday…. with me oversleeping!  Around this time of the year, you really have to be the first in the forest to get the best of the Ceps. Waking up at 9:30am doesn’t help your chances!

So, instead of finding this parking area clear (as I would usually expect), as you can see, my car (the white van) is at the back of the queue.

And I was also at the back of the queue, in terms of mushrooms. This part of the forest (right at the north) is very popular in the Autumn and usually yields good results. Perhaps it had today for those early birds but not for me.


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Essential equipment

One of the great things about mushrooming is how little equipment you need. A basket, a knife, a few guidebooks – that’s about it – or is it?

That makes mushrooming a great hobby compared to fishing for example. You can fully outfit yourself for less than the price of a half decent rod and reel.

Take a look at the things that I take with me when I go into the forest in the company of my friends, and the other things I carry when I am alone.


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The First Foray

Today was my first trip into the forest since June (when the Forest was bare apart from one solitary Summer Cep).

As you can see from the photo on the left, there wasn’t much about and, what there was, wasn’t of particularly high quality (Click on the photo for a better view – don’t forget to use the Back button to return).

I drove in to the South-West side of the forest and left the car. There is a track along the Southern edge of the forest that has some special spots (petits coins in French) where I usually find the first Ceps of the year. Today, however, all was bare. I headed North until I hit the Les Forges road, then West towards Les Cinq Chemins. As I was shuffling along the side of the road, poking around in the ditch, a car pulled up… “Any luck?”, the driver asked.


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