Despite the fact that France enjoys a rather sunny climate and has perhaps less rainfall than the UK, it enjoys a bumper crop of mushrooms most years. The French also have a real love affair with their wild mushrooms, regarding them as a delicacy to be savoured and not necessarily something about which you should be afraid.
Interestingly in the more rural parts of France, which is after all, where you would be most likely to find mushrooms, the pharmacist in the local chemist, should be able to help you differentiate between which mushrooms you can eat (pour manger) and those which are inedible (dangereux). So, after a good old foray in the woodlands, why not take a trip to the chemist and see if he or she can assist.
For the beginner it is possible to enrol on a mushroom picking weekend or even longer trip, so that you can be guided through where mushrooms can be found and which are edible (and more detail on how to pick them correctly). This may be particularly useful if you do not know your pharmacist or he/she is not very friendly or helpful.
However, if you are a beginner, then you should be aware that there are some informal rules about mushroom collecting in France and for diplomatic reasons it is important to remember these rules apply and observe them. For the French are very ‘sanguine’ about their food and mushrooms. Yes they want to eat them, but they also want to make sure that the species is propagated and that hopefully even more mushrooms will appear next year. So for this reason, they apply strict code, which is successful in ensuring annual supplies of mushrooms.
There are three ‘rules’ and they are quite easy to remember so there is little excuse for ‘forgetting’ them.
1. The mushrooms picked have to have reached a reasonable size. Don’t pick absolutely tiny ones. They will not have released their spores if they are picked too early. Releasing the spores means propagation.
2. Cut the mushroom at its base, but do not ‘rip’ it up. Ripping it out of the ground will simply damage the underground part of the mushroom and this is quite simply viewed as ignorant behaviour.
3. You must collect your pickings in a wicker type basket, so that as you carry the mushrooms they will drop their spores through the holes and propagation will take place again.
So, now that you are au fait with the do’s and don’ts, you are all set to ‘mushroom pick’ in France and from Brittany to the very southern most tips of France, there are mushrooms to be found almost everywhere, starting late August, with the first ones coming through, until the beginning of November! There are even truffles to be had, particularly in the south east of France….if you know where to look !
Ceps (porcini) mushrooms and Chanterelles are the most common and prolific mushrooms, however, sp prized are mushrooms that there is a very comprehensive map available of where certain mushrooms can be found and a good description, as well as valuable information about toxicity. If you can speak or understand French, then visit www.atlas-des-champignons.com for exact information about where you can find individual types of mushrooms.
Not now I am busy stop annoying me with Truffle's ! I will be in the Auven are of France in September is that area good for mushrooms and Truffle's .
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Wild Mushroom Identification - Recommended Books for All Skill Levels: Every amateur mycologist should have a decent library of books, here are the top five books I highly recommend for wild mushroom identification:
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