Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mushroom Hunting

It's as simple as this. You hear someone talking about going mushroom hunting the next day, and you say "Pardon?', and then you shift your Sunday plans.  

With mushroom guide ready in hand, we hop in the car and head toward the nearby forest, just a quick 15 minute drive southwest of Paris.  Who has a car, you ask?  Nobody, I answer.  What is this alien form of transportation?

There's something that is so good for a person about getting out of the city and just walking around in nature.  I wouldn't have cared if we hadn't found a single mushroom.  It was just great getting to romp around in the woods.  But we did find, oh yes we did.

This was our first sighting of a little purple mushroom that would soon become our most hunted treasure.  And on the bottom right, a chestnut, just begging to be fire roasted and eaten.  The porcupine looking things?  The chestnut's cocoon.  They are sharp.  Spread your wings, little one, and fly.  Into my mouth.

It's like Easter Egg hunting, and once you specifically have an eye out for mushrooms, you discover there is a whole other universe of Alice in Wonderland proportions on the forest floor.

Every time we found something crazy, we'd consult the mushroom book.

As it turns out, a lot of mushrooms look exactly the same, and we could turn from one page to the next with an identical-looking specimen, and one would have a 3-star delicious rating while the next was deadly poison with skull and bones.

So we tried to stay on the safe side.

We'd find something beautiful, and if there was any chance of it killing us, we'd toss it aside.

There are some crazy-looking creatures to be found.

These were the all-time favorite...the tiny purple mushrooms.
I just loved the color.

Once our mushroom-hunting session was over, with four full bags, we stopped by a pharmacy to see if there were any knowledgeable mushroom connoisseurs to check out our loot and verify was edible and what would kill us.

This guy said the phrase "It's not worth the risk" 27 times, "One can't play with mushrooms" 12 times, and "You eat one and you're dead" twice.  Sooo, I decided that I would forego my portion of the mushrooms and just call it a fun day.

After the pharmacy, we headed to one of my favorite spots in the greater Paris area, Nick's magical backyard garden.  We had a barbecue here one night in the summer, enter flashback scene:
Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever seen? Keep in mind that backyards don't exist in Paris.  Maybe that's part of what made this so great, but I couldn't get over the adorable table set up filled with food and joviality.  The guys built a fire in the bbq, put a little lamp on the table when it started getting dark, and we had grilled chicken, steak, potatoes, and all kinds of deliciousness surrounded by trees as we talked and laughed in the summer breeze. Tra-la-la.

So here I was, back in the Secret Garden, prepping wild mushrooms & chestnuts by pocket knife.

Then Nick's girlfriend's mom pulled a move that will forever endear me to the French.  "Does anyone want a drink?  Water? Beer? Wine?" "No thanks, we're fine."  "Okay, here's a tray full of various drinks, wine glasses, a plate of macarons, and a giant link of dried saucisson on a cutting board to snack at your leisure, should you so desire, while cutting mushrooms."  The epitome of hospitality in the magical fairyland garden.

Who has beautiful delicious macarons on hand just in case??  The French do.

We also started doing some research on these crazy little purple mushrooms.

It turns out they are called "Amethyst Deceivers".  In our research, Nick came across a song about Amethyst Deceivers, a trippy little number that included gem lyrics such as, "Pay your respects to the vultures, for they are our future...Amethyst Deceivers...Little mushrooms". What??  Destined to be a hit for all time.

And what did we do with the fire?, you ask.  I will tell you.  We roasted chestnuts that were gathered from the forest floor.  As if the garden wasn't magical enough.  I just want to move in under the tree in the corner.

Oh and they were roasted in what appears to be an 18th century brass bed warmer, but is actually a brass pan made specifically for dry roasting chestnuts. Stop it, already.  Just stop.  Why do you have this??  And the handle extends out so you can stand 50 feet away from the fire while roasting if you want to.  This was unnecessary considering the size of our fire, but funny to watch, nonetheless.  The chestnuts came out perfectly and made me really excited for Christmas markets, where they sell hot roasted chestnuts left and right.

If you get a chance to go mushroom and/or chestnut hunting, and especially if there is a magic garden involved, do it, I implore you.


  1. An Amazing little adventure. :) - Jac

    1. Such a fun surprise! Kind of felt like I invited myself, and so glad I did!

  2. Just stop is right, lol. What a fantasy of a day! Paris, mushrooms, back yards and macarons ~ really? Love it!

  3. what a fun day. i've learned so much about mushrooms in one blog post.