Friday, 23 November 2012

Fungus Foray

Our new house is on the eastern edge of Exmoor, in the Brendon Hills. It's spectacular walking country, when it's not raining, which today it wasn't so I took the opportunity to stride off up the hillside with the dog. Bit squelchy underfoot, but lovely non the less. Now I've always been a fan of the idea of foraging, I've watched Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall going off to forage for delicious ceps, chanterelles, morels, and other delicacies, coming back to River Cottage and cooking up a wonderful mushroom supper with a scraping of wild garlic and herbs, but when I've searched myself for such things I've seldom found such bounty. Once or twice I've been rewarded with a Shaggy Parasol or two and once a whole field full of Field Mushrooms, but not as often as tv experts would have you believe.
 
So imagine my excitement when I got to the top of the hill and in the woods I came across these

it's not obvious from the photo, which I took with my phone, but there was a veritable sea of fungi all over the forest floor. I picked a few samples and took some photos,


and when we got back I rushed to check on the internet to see whether my hoped for mushroom supper was about to become a reality. Sadly it seems not. There were two main sorts of the fungi, and neither of them seem to be the edible kind, so far as I can see anyway. I've struggled to find them online and as I'm by no means an expert, and would certainly never consider eating anything that I could not positively identify, I will have to leave them be, but it's really such a shame because there are absolutely masses of the  things up there.

We had a house in France a few years ago, and so popular is fungus foraging over there that you can take your collected specimen of fungi into any pharmacist and they would identify it for you, although there were many apocryphal stories of whole families of people being found frozen in rigor mortis at the dinner table forks in hand around a dish of Amanita Phalloides a la Creme....

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