At this time of year, my Saturday mornings usually consist of a duvet cover and a darkened room; a mug of hot tea and the muted sounds of the neighbours beginning their weekend DIY. The only mushrooms I see at this hour are the ones that occasionally appear in my bacon sandwich. So it was with some trepidation that I arose last weekend to embark on something I had never done before: Mushroom Picking.
I should begin by saying that I am a complete novice at this, and if you are too, you should definitely invest in a short course or informative book, as the varying types of mushroom mean that some are poisonous and should be left well alone. Mushrooms by Roger Phillips is a good choice if you do find a paper guide is the way to go.
When I decided to go mushroom picking, my first thought was, “Where?” Searching on the internet and using the seemingly limitless accumulated knowledge of Twitter users, I discovered there were quite a few places near my home where one could forage for fungi. My adventure took me to a nearby wooded area; dark, humid, earthy. I brought with me a traditional wicker basket and yes, I also wore a red coat, although it had no hood.
With my guidebook in hand I enjoyed a pleasant stroll through nature. Looking for mushrooms and checking my book meant that I was far more focussed and in tune with all that surrounded me. I noticed things I’d never noticed before, and luckily I had also brought my camera to capture the moments I felt were quite beautiful. The light falling a certain way through the trees, the fine detail of wild flowers close up. That to me was the beauty of mushroom picking. We seem to get further away from nature in our everyday lives, constantly barraged with new technology as we are. This brought me pleasantly back down to earth.
I collected my mushrooms very carefully and as I left the area I got one of the very helpful staff at the Tyne Riverside Country Park, or the “woodland folk” as I liked to call them, to help me double check my pickings. They were all good to eat, so off I went to cook up a mushroom extravaganza. And here it is. The fruits (or mushrooms) of my labour, and my goodness they were delicious. They tasted better than any shop bought mushroom. “Did you not fancy using the tin out the cupboard?” asked my fiancé. “Tinned!” I scoffed. Never again.
Mushroom picking is not something I would have thought of doing myself. The idea was planted, no pun intended by an upcoming event at Hotel du Vin Poole. It is however, something I will definately be doing again. At the risk of sounding a bit “hippy dippy” as my dad would say, the act of taking food from the earth is pretty therapeutic and satisfying. And spending a day in the picturesque surroundings that are so close to me, yet I’d never explored them before certainly made me feel like a bit of an adventurer. On the “silent hunt” as it is sometimes called. For a few hours, I forgot about the housework, the daytime job, the gasmen digging up pipes outside my home, and just relaxed. It was quiet, peaceful and I felt very content at the end of the day. In fact, with all the fresh air, I slept like a log.
So if you get the chance to go Mushroom picking, I thoroughly recommend it. Paradise Found package is available on the 11th and 12th November at Hotel du Vin Poole. http://www.hotelduvin.com/hdv-hotel-events.aspx?id=6944