delicious lightly sauted in butter.
with shallots and white wine. A most I spectacular creature is the (iiant Puff Ball. some of which weigh as much as
a kilo and contain food enough to Wood Blewit. Pick only very young mushrooms which have not begun to spore: I have had nasty experiences with maggots. Probably the best way to appreciate the subtle flavours of feed an army. These can be sliced into steaks and fried in batter and breadcrumbs. or hollowed. stuffed. and roasted whole.
Careful identification ofspecies is vital for fungi as it is for all wild plants. Though very few are poisonous. those that are can resemble their innocuous cousins. It is advisable to consult a book which has clear photographs from all angles and in cross section. such as Roger Phillips' .Ilushrooms (Pan Books £11.95). It is also worth remembering that roadside verges are likely to be polluted and should therefore be avoided as picking sites.
Whilst anyone is free to gather natural produce on public land. it is an offense under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act to uproot any plant. Mushrooms are all right because they are actually the fruiting bodies of an autonomous subterranean structure. It is important to recognise how irresponsible and ultimately self-defeating it would be to gather rare plants. or even to be greedy with common ones. Choose places where there is abundant growth. and always leave plenty behind. both to ensure the survival of the colony and to feed those who don‘t have recourse to Safeways - birds and mice for example. Happy hunting!
WILD RECIPES An Herbe Tart
"I‘ake sorrel. spinage. parsely. and boile them in water till they be very soft as pap: then take them up. and presse the water cleane from them. then take good store ofyelks ofegs boild very hard. and chopping them with the hearbs exceeding small. then put in good store ofcurrants. sugar and cynamon. and stirre all well together; then put them into a deep tart—coffon with good store of sweet butter. and cover it. and bake it like a pippin-tart. and adorne the lid after the baking in that manner also. ('. . . when it is bak‘t. then draw it out. and having boyled butter and rose-water together. anoynt all the lid therewith. and then scrape or strow on it good store ofsugar. and so set it in the oven again . . .') and so serve it up.‘
Taken from Country Contemmwzts or the English H uswije by Gervase Markham. 1623.
Wild Mushroom Soup
802 wild mushrooms. the stronger the flavour the better
I pint vegetable or chicken stock
‘ C Q 5
2 tablespoons ofcream
Place whole mushrooms in stock with vinegar. Simmer for ten minutes. Strain. reserving liquid. Slice mushrooms into strips. Stir cornflour into melted butter. add milk. stillstirring. Bringto the boil. cook fora few minutes before adding the mushrooms and stock. Bring to the boil again. season. stir in the cream and nutmeg. Serve garnished with more grated nutmeg.
Scots Cream Crowdie
1 pint double cream
2 oz medium oatmeal
4 tablespoons clear honey
3 tablespoons whisky
12 oz fresh blackberries
Put the oatmeal in a thick-bottomed saucepan and shake it over the heat until golden brown. Whip the cream until thick. Stir in honey. whisky and cool toasted oatmeal. Reserving a few berries for decoration. layer fruit and cream mixture in serving dishes. Chill for at least an hour. Allow to come to room temperature for thirty minutes before serving. Very rich but sumptuous.
Put a combination ofblackberries. stoned sloes. elderberries and crab apples in a pan with sugar or honey to taste. Cook gently for ten minutes. Strain the fruit. reserving the juice. Line a pudding basin with slices ofbread soaked in fruit juice. Pour in the fruit. Finish with a layer of bread and cover with a weighted saucer. Refridgerate overnight. Turn out and serve with cream and any remaining fruit juice.
I Food for Free Richard Mabey (Collins. £6.99). Illustrated potted encyclopaedia ofedible plants. seaweed. funghi and shellfish.
I Wild Food Roger Phillips (Pan Books. £12.99). Beautifully presented catalogue ofwild produce. including folklore and traditional uses. practical information on availability and gathering. as well as imaginative recipes.
I Mushrooms Roger Phillips (Pan Books. £1 1 .99). A comprehensive guide to mushroom identification: colour photographs of each species from a variety of angles and in cross section. as well as written descriptions and details of season. habitat and edibility.
I Mushroom Magic Michael Jordan (Elm 'I‘ree Books. £9.99). Fungal eulogy after the Channel Four television series. With the help of stunning photographs. this enthusiastic perambulation around the subject is guaranteed to have you reaching for your basket.
I Seasonal Cooking Claire Macdonald of Macdonald (Corgi. £4.99)
Some wonderfully evocative country recipes. employing an imaginative variety oflocal ingredients.
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The List 38 September - l I October 199091