Chris Slade describes the son et lumiere presentation at the abbey of Bon Repos called "Le Pays de Conomor" in Brittany, which takes place during the first two weeks of August.
Mushroom poisoning and stomach ache
I have just dropped Iona and Joe off at school.
Lisette parked next to me.
Ça va Nicole ?
‘To be honest, I have a stomach ache. Chantal gave me some mushrooms yesterday and perhaps…’
“How long did you cook them for ?’ Lisette asked.
‘10 minutes’ I replied.
‘Mon dieu, of course you have stomach ache, you probably have mushroom poisoning. You must cook wild mushrooms for at least an hour. Here, try again, I went mushrooming this morning before breakfast.’ She whipped open her boot and there were two huge baskets laden with mushrooms. I am sure every woman in Brittany has a car boot full of wild mushrooms at the moment !.
‘Try these’, she said,’Cèpes de Bordeaux and Têtes-de-Nègre.’
I would NEVER have thought that a delicate mushroom would require so much cooking.
I now have almost 2 kilos of mushrooms on the kitchen table waiting for the hot butter and garlic… Our house is going to smell so good in an hour or so.
I started preparing the mushrooms at 10.15. Peeling, brushing and spore removal takes longer than you think !!..
By 10.45 they were all in the pan. The heat was low as it would go as there was nothing else added to the pan. Gradually the mushrooms began to release their juices and I could turn the heat up a bit.
For an hour I watched these mushrooms like a hawk. After an hour they had reduced to less than half of their original mass and were a dark brown, almost black. Now to add a tiny bit of butter, masses of garlic and parsley… smells so good.
We ate at 12.15. Two kilos of mushrooms disappeared in 10 minutes with no worry about suffering from mushroom poisoning afterwards.
It is strange, I have a huge amount of respect for the food that I have grown or foraged for. Mushrooming is a great pastime and pleasure for our entire family. These delicate crops certainly deserve to be prepared correctly, not in a hurried uncaring way.
We are very sorry to disagree with Nicola’s friend Lisette, but wild mushrooms such as cèpes or têtes-de-nègre certainly should not be cooked for as long as 1 hour. In fact, 8 to 10 minutes is enough for pan-fried cèpes. Preparing the mushrooms is obviously more time consuming, as they need to be carefully cleaned so as not to damage them. They are very delicate.
In our opinion, Nicola may have eaten some mushrooms that were either not prepared properly, perhaps not clean enough, or simply that they were not fit for consumption. A word of advice: if you go mushroom picking in France, if unsure, do not hesitate to take basket containing your mushroom harvest along to your local pharmacist. They will be more than happy to check them over for you to make sure they are edible. In fact, this is highly recommended in France, as all pharmacists are trained in the technique of mycology. This is a free service, very popular with the French, and certainly extremely useful in order to avoid mushroom poisoning!