If the earlybird catches the worm, this morning he ate a limace, or
slug, as the forest was wet after rain and mushrooms soaked up the
moisture like sponges.
I am now more adept at finding ‘corners’, secret spots that I know
have all the right elements to produce cèpes. Walking along in the
sunshine there were tiny birds flitting everywhere, and chestnuts
falling audibly as I made my way past a grove, through a pine forest
and then into the beech woods.
An article in the newspaper claims 20,000 varieties of champignons in
our department alone (Langudoc Roussillon), with around 200 being ‘edible’
(comestible) and 200 toxic (veneneux). I have spent hours poring over
guidebooks, taking photos and collecting samples – the mushrooms often
alter colour or form when there has been heavy rain and much ‘attention
to detail’ is required.
Yesterday my panier was heavier, this time from just across the border
in Spain and very close to a dirt road – surprisingly different terrain.
Along with a very fine Cèpe de∫Bordeaux, there were Coulemelles (Lépiote
élevée), ‘Bolet rude’ and a Bolet satan (the only poisonous bolet, which
when cut, turns inky black and exudes a strong odour). It is not possible
to be sure ‘by look alone’ as even the cap had changed colour (from white
to dark brown!) and it resembled another variety.