Two go ‘shrooming
October 7, 2006
Maths chick and I have just got back from an afternoon foraging expedition. According to the Sunday glossies, foraging is the new gardening, which was the new cooking, which was the new sex (they obviously don’t know yet that receiving veg boxes is the new foraging, which was the new gardening, which was etc etc).
Now, I’m no expert mycologist. I normally stick to the few wild mushrooms I’ve picked, eaten and survived – parasols, ceps, shaggy ink caps and the common field ‘shroom. But today, armed with a sharp kitchen knife and Collins’ ‘How to Identify Edible Mushrooms’, we were feeling funghally adventurous.
Despite the recent rain our funghal friends were surprisingly thin on the ground. Perhaps the Islington fashionista had been out early in their Birkenstocks, scouring Hampstead Heath for a breakfast of Chanterelles and Penny Buns. More likely the prime ‘shroom season has been delayed by the unusually dry summer.
We searched the glades, open grassland, and rotting stumps of the Heath and Highgate Wood in search of our elusive treasures. Eventually, we got lucky and brought home a fine Beefsteak Fungus, a few small brackets of Chicken of the Wood, and two Wood Mushrooms. At least, that’s what we think they are. Or were – because I’ve just chopped ’em up, fried ’em in oil, garlic and loads of pepper and, nervously, eaten them.
The Beefsteak was tasteless and exuded a disturbing blood-like liquid. Before cooking, it looked and felt like a fat, slimey cow’s tongue. The Chicken of the Wood tasted like… er… chicken. Nice, if a little dry and stringy. I decided not to eat the Wood Mushrooms in the end, as apparently they are all too easily confused with the deadly poisonous Death Cap. Fortunately, this little sweetie is not as potent as it used to be – apparently these days eating one of these is only fatal in 20% of cases. In other words, only slightly more dangerous than playing Russian Roulette.
I realise now I’m too cowardly and paranoid to be a dedicated forager. My heart started racing, my cheeks started tingling, even before I’d tried the first mouthful of our little funghal feast. I am now utterly convinced I’m going to die at some stage this evening. Hopefully there’s still time for a last game of Scrabble.
Oh, and by the way, we made a couple of 1/4lb burgers out of the beef mince that came with the meat box the other day. And all I can say is those Well Hung Meat boys really know their business. Two superlative slabs of beefy meatiness. Even Maths chick was lost for words in the face of such burgal perfection. And that’s a first.
Now I’m starting to feel a bit odd. If this turns out to be the last post of this blog, you’ll know why, and I’d just like to say it’s been a pleasure knowing y’all.