To eat – or not to eat

Every year there is a fête de champignons in Boussac. The French don’t differentiate between mushrooms and toadstools the way we do – they call everything a champignon. But some you can eat, and some you can’t.

Today’s fête had around 140 different champignons on display. They ranged from ‘bon comestible’ (good to eat), to ‘toxique’ (poisonous) to ‘mortel’ (deadly). There was only one deadly one on show, carefully put in a container and wrapped in clingfilm as a security measure!

Every year the main thing that hits me is the similarity between some edible varieties and some poisonous ones. To my eye they look identical, yet one is ‘comestible’ and the other ‘toxique’. Even with our trusty mushroom guidebook, I wouldn’t want to risk it. This book, as well as showing photos of zillions of champignons, describes in great detail the various ways you can die of toadstool poisoning. Each one is worse than the last. Some poisons are quick to act, others take weeks before they kick in. Some make you hallucinate, others paralyse you. But they’re all nasty.

Our neighbour Jan took us mushrooming the first autumn we were here. He showed us about four edible varieties which we duly cooked that night, a little hesitantly it has to be said. They were OK but nothing amazing. However, since then we haven’t bothered to help ourselves to nature’s bounty in the mycelium form. I prefer to buy my mushrooms from the supermarket – much the safest way!

I took some photos of the expo today but in moving from next door to this house, I’ve mislaid the connecting cable I need to upload them to the computer. As soon as it comes to light, I’ll add the pics. So check back soon!

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