After last year's mega-find of a Lion's mane fungi in our woods, and after the subsequent excited eating of said 'safe and delicious' mushroom and the subsequent nausea and other unfavourable side effects, I've decided, this year, I'm staying well clear of mushrooms!
For the French however this is an exciting time of year, and understandably so; if you know what you're looking for there is a bounty of fungi to pick, and eat 'safely', and if you're in any doubt, French pharmacies will verify this for you. There are apparently over 3000 different types of mushroom in France, which makes me worry how anyone is expected to identify which ones are safe and which ones aren't!
This region is full of oak forests, which are ripe for all of the conditions fungi love to grow. Thankfully the local markets are full of some of the more identifiable and delicious ones including cépes, girolles, chanterelles, and even truffles, which grow abundantly here thanks to all those oak trees. Limogne en Quercy and L'albenque, two pretty towns just over the border from us in the Lot have truffle markets throughout the winter months, where men and women, often with small baskets or just a handkerchief sell the truffles they've foraged. The prices vary but some weeks a winter truffle can be as expensive as €700 a kilo if not more! As much as I love the taste of truffle unfortunately for me I will probably mostly be eating the humble 'champignons de Paris', or as we know them - white mushrooms! When cooked in hot butter with fresh thyme, a little garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper any mushroom can taste good, especially on baguette toast - yum!
And on that note, whilst I plan to keep a safe distance from this year's bounty of fungi it's impossible not to spot them when out about, so here for your safe digestion, is a selection of fun fungi photos from various places around our neck of the woods...