A friend brought us some mushrooms yesterday. I’m not going to tell you which friend. And I shan’t tell you where he found them either. He was ranging about in the woods, snaffling mushrooms. If the forest ranger or a landowner had caught him because he’d strayed onto private land, they could have fined him. 150 Euros. And the friend who was with him, another 150 euros. It’s a lot to pay for half a pound of mushrooms, but everyone does it.
Nobody however, wants to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, and most people, like our friend, pick carefully and respectfully so that mushrooms will still be growing there tomorrow, and the next day, and for as many years as there are people wanting to eat them.
The ones he brought us are lactaire delicieux – saffron milk caps. I know they exist in England, because Googling produces a score of recipes from the UK, but I’ve never seen them there.
In fact they’re native to this part of the world, both in France and Spain, and live in the acidic soil under Mediterranean pine trees. They’re yellowy orange, and exude orangey milk when broken or cooked. Roughly handled, they develop a scary green stain. But that doesn’t mean they’re poisonous. Anything but.
Here’s what he suggested we do with them.
You’ll need at least 2 or 3 large ones each. They’re often small though, so you may need more. Clean them by brushing them gently and lay them cap side down in a shallow buttered oven dish. Cover generously with knobs of butter and Roquefort cheese – 4 parts cheese to one part butter. Grill till the cheese is melted and the mushrooms cooked. Serve with lots of crusty bread to mop up the juices, and a green salad.
If he brings any more, or if we’re lucky enough to find some ourselves, I’ll be Googling again, because there are any number of simple ideas, just waiting to be tried and enjoyed.