This Autumn we had some good family action hunting for mushrooms. What an education it was and will be for years to come no doubt. I am pretty familiar with the common field mushroom but am unfortunate enough to be part of the small group of humans that are allergic to them.
Three experiences each producing greater and more horrendous expulsions than the last confirmed this for me some years ago. They didn’t kill me but I certainly won’t be going back there all the same.
I still cant resist collecting them. It is a bit tricky to give them to people who don’t know them well and say “try these, they make me violently ill but you should be fine”.
Fortunately my lovely sister Francis Upritchard and her equally lovely husband Martino Gamper are super keen foragers (as well as rockstars of the sculptural world). This Autumn they started us on a hunt for fairy ring mushrooms.
Though we only found a few dried up ones at the time, my next trip to the country revealed a jackpot. These wee chaps are delicious and didn’t make me ill! We threw some of the more mature ones on our lawn in hope it would inoculate it
On the back of this success we had a great session collecting in Hagley park. We were looking for Porcini (King Boletes) but found a whole field of what turned out to be hay maker mushrooms instead. Great fun to collect but are apparently slightly hallucinogenic, not so good for kids. Just shows how careful you need to be about identification.
We are still learning about Porcini and finding about all the near relatives of these elusive chaps. I suppose once we find the spots for Porcini we too will give elusive descriptions of their locations and tricks for finding them. All the same keep your eyes open and you never know what you will find. Read upon them, collect mushrooms, take them home, look them up and see what you can learn. Just be sure you are sure before you eat them.