Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Weekend In The Country

















Rule #1: When in doubt, do not eat(!)

Rule #2: Immediately walk, cycle or drive to the pharmacie.

Rule #3: Toss OR save and savor.

Rule #4: Discuss till you fall over in a stupor, about how to properly clean.

Rule # 5: Argue over the perfect recipe immediately after the extended conversation/debate about proper cleaning methods has been resolved.

Rule #6: Reach a decision about rules four and five.

















Rule #7: Forget about all the above and enjoy one of the culinary world's greatest luxuries.

You certainly deserve an explanation at this point. At the top is a charming picture of a toadstool --  you know, just like the ones in your garden. 

Immediately above is another, equally lovely picture of cepes, those rich, creamy, coveted mushrooms growing all over the Rambouillet forest (and other forests certainly, but I cite Rambouillet because as I mentioned last weekend it surrounds us).

The difference between the two pictures? Toadstools are poisonous, cepes are delicious and make one swoon with delight over every morsel. But you knew that. (However, you may not have known that when you find the two in situ. I certainly have no idea.)

Their fresh, rich, earthy odor makes the laborious task of cleaning them a pleasure -- so does a glass of Sancerre rouge and someone helping and talking with you as you work.

Now, back to rules #1 and #2:  Unless you know what you're doing, you don't want to blithely eat any mushroom you come across (where we live almost everyone does know what they're picking).  As for the second suggestion, in France, every pharmacie offers the free service of identifying your crops to tell you whether they are edible or whether they would be your last meal. 

And, rule #5: Cepe cleaners fall into two camps. 
  • Those who insist it is a crime to wash them. These purists maintain all mushrooms must be brushed clean with a purpose-made, fine bristled brush. 

  • Those on the other side of the debate agree that mushrooms should be brushed as clean as possible and then rinsed to assure the last crunchy bits of sand and mud are removed.
The friend who gave me a huge basket of them last weekend said, "Whatever you do, don't wash them." Two other friends said, "Definitely rinse them after you brush them."

I will not tell you what we did. I will tell you we moaned with pleasure as we ate them. All the work was worth it.

P.S: Sam, My Carolina Kitchen, if you're reading this please weigh-in. Those of you who have not met Sam, you must click here. Her blog is wonderful and her joie de vivre is contageous. You'll see.

7 comments:

Deja Pseu said...

Heh. If I walked into a pharmacie here with a basket of mushrooms, I'd be met with that blank look like when you try to explain the difference between a stiletto and stacked heel to a man.

I'm in the brush-don't-wash camp usually, but if there are some particularly stubborn bits, I'll rinse and then pat dry. The main thing is you don't want to let them sit wet or they get soggy. For our vegetarian friends, le monsieur does a marinated and grilled Portobello that is heaven.

vicki archer said...

I am a brush don't wash most of the time type too....cepes with a little creme laden pasta....the perfect meal....enjoy, xv.

Lorrie said...

I was recently given a lovely basketful of chanterelle mushrooms that grow wild in our area. I cooked them with butter, garlic and cream and served them over a salmon fillet. Their taste makes me want to take up mushroom hunting for myself.

I've always thought that the French system of having pharmacies as go-to places for deciphering mushrooms was brilliant.

Bon weekend

Belle de Ville said...

Oh, wild mushrooms, one of the great pleasures of living in France. How I envy you!

Jeanne-Aelia Desparmet-Hart said...

Aaaahhh, les cepes... with oysters my favorite luxury foods. I might not eat them everyday, but close. Funny it is in Tangier that I had some and not Paris, this time around. lucky girl!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Merci beaucoup Tish for the very lovely things you've said about my blog. I honestly don't know what I would do without the beauty and wardrobe advice from you and Cherie.

It's fabulous that you can find these beautiful mushrooms in your own back yard. How I would love to be your neighbor.

For years I heard never wash mushrooms - only brush them. Water will make the soggy. Then one day I was told that it wasn't true that water makes mushrooms soggy. Who should you believe? It left me confused.

Personally I brush them or wipe them with a damp paper towel. A famous chef says if mushrooms such as morels are particularily grimy, you can rinse them quickly in water and pat them dry immediately.

Whatever you choose, treat them with care. They are a gift from the gods.

I think the French pharmacies are the best news in the world for knowing which mushrooms are safe to eat. Only in France could you get advice at the pharmacy about food along with your prescriptions. Long live the French.
Sam

lila said...

to be honest,I never wash mine..they somehow tastes better this way.
Up to today,cross my finger,no tummy bugs!
I love them too!
hugs
lila

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