Tuesday 20 September 2011
What is it with us and fungi?
All over Europe at this time of the year people go out on fungus forays and come back with baskets loaded with various kinds of edible fungi which they cook up into delicious- sounding meals.
What do we do here in the UK? Well, I would hazard a guess that most of you, like me, eat ordinary field mushrooms, maybe chestnut mushrooms - and at a push ceps or maybe a packet of those dried mushrooms which reconstitute pretty well providing all you are going to do is add them to some dish or other.
My mother cooked field mushrooms with liver and bacon and thick brown gravy - and it was delicious. But suggest trying anything other than that and she would quickly point out that they were 'all poisonous'.
Why, I wonder, are we so scared of them? I photographed one or two on my walk this afternoon and I must say they all look pretty poisonous to me. But I have no way of knowing whether they are or not.
Kent cob nuts appeared on our market stall last Friday. They looked absolutely lovely but I really would not know what to do with them - and they didn't look ripe by any means. The farmer brought in a handful of hazel nuts from the hedge yesterday - they look lovely too but I have never sctually tasted one.
So there we are - good food going to waste because we have never been educated to select the good from the bad, the edible from the poisonous. Or maybe, on second thoughts, it is not going to waste. Some squirrel somewhere is saying, thank goodness they don't know just how good these hazelnuts are!
On a completely different topic, I watched an interesting thing from the bathroom window yesterday. I'm sorry that it is such a rotten photograph but it had to be taken against the light and the bird box is some distance away. This year tree sparrows successfully reared two broods in this box. As I watched, a woodpecker began to peck at the hole. It pecked and pecked, and kept trying the hole for size until suddenly it could squeeze through. Then it proceeded to throw out all the nesting material, as though it were cleaning the whole thing out for use next year. It will be interesting to see if a woodpecker tries nesting in the box come the Spring, won't it?