This is my third Autumn article for the company newsletter and this time around I thought I’d deviate from my usual overly pretentious, butter and wine fuelled coronary inducing recipes and get a little exercise; in search of a quietly unassuming little mushroom called Boletus Edulis.
These fungus are known by many names in different languages; in France they are the mighty Cèpe, in Britain they are the Penny Bun, in Italy the Porcini, and in Holland the apparently (according to my mother in law) poisonous Eekhoorntjesbrood. They are always delicious regardless of the country, and one of the few things worth getting up early for on an autumnal Sunday morning.
Where you go to look for Boletus is up to you, but you will have more luck in oak and beech forests (Wikipedia says pine but elsewhere I’ve read that pine is too acidic, and indeed I’ve never found Boletus under a pine tree). I could tell you where I go to find them, but I won’t.
It’s a good idea to hunt in places with no dogs (because of dog poo), and no kids (because kids like to smash stuff). This said, last week I found half a kilo in a field of dog poo next to a kid’s playground; needless to say I didn’t eat them.
To identify Boletus you should look for a mushroom with a moist brown, shiny cap, and hundreds of small holes or spores underneath the cap. No other fungus than the Boletus has these spores and the great thing about Boletus is that all sub varieties of the fungus are edible, with the exception of those which are bright red. So if it has spores and it’s not red, it’s a Cèpe!
Once you have your mushrooms and you’ve trekked twenty or so kilometers to find them, there is nothing better than to arrive home and slice and grill them simply with a brushing of olive oil, and serve on hot buttered toast with a glass of red wine.