Deep in a dark,thick mountain pine forest you get that sort of silence that only nature can produce. The pine needle carpet and the closely growing pine trees prevent light and sound from invading the depths of the silent pinewooded slope. A wonderful soundless environment is only broken by your footsteps and those of your brother-in-law who walks as though he has lost something, scouring the pine needle floor. He hasn’t lost anything. He is looking for wild mushrooms. It is an annual tradition to go out in October and November to look for these gifts from nature.
He’s a biology professor and quite the expert on wild mushrooms which comes in handy when gathering these amazing and varied “fruits of the forest”. Besides the standard wild mushrooms I have also eaten with him black trumpets,weird looking but great tasting fungus, and countless other mushrooms of all types and sizes, including things that grow on dead trees; fungus that I wouldn’t touch let alone eat.
Over the last two or three years it is very fashionable on foodie blogs to write about gathering,the autumn and what one can harvest from nature. This is great as it gives access to a subject that alot of people in Europe probably knew very little about.Sharing info and learning is always fun.
Of course, here in Spain hunting/gathering food during the whole year is not fashionable. It is simply a normal part of life for many people. I have written about wild asparragus and snails in another post: http://tinyurl.com/d6lk6ya but the king of ‘gathered’ food is the wild mushroom. It is advisable to only ever eat what you know 100% to be edible. Every year in Spain there are always cases of poisoning and even deaths. If you don’t know what you are doing then don’t pick is the best strategy!
All over Spain you can go on short Mycology courses in many towns and villages so you can learn to enjoy these natural delicacies.
What else can you pick to eat at this time of year in the wild? The Madroño fruit (strawberry tree fruit), the prickly pear, and pomegranates (normally on land or farms that have been abandoned in the mountains). Sloes are also to found in the cooler climes as are chestnuts. And then in Teruel and Soria truffles are around although to find wild ones is a challenge without a trained dog or pig! You can also collect carob beans and acorns. Both can be made into a flour or cooked as ingredients. Acorns can be roasted like chestnuts.
The gathering outings “en familia” to the countryside in search of wild mushrooms are always fun and these sessions really do take you to some beautiful, lonely and unique parts of Spain.There is nothing like wandering in a deep dark forest without a particular route. Close up to nature and fun. But be careful lots of people get lost every year in Spain because they are often not used to keeping their bearings in the countryside and they walk off into the forest heads down concentrating on the wonders of fungus and they forget to check where they are in relation to their cars. I have met people lost on more than one occasion.
The final part and the best way to round off the ‘hunt’ is to eat your trophies. Either cooked in the frying pan with a dash of oil or in a stew the mushrooms are fantastic and accompanied with a good red wine and good company it doesn’t get much better!
The Spanish Thyme Traveller organise trips on which you can experience the amazing food and culture of the beautiful interior of Valencia and Teruel.Check out our webpage by clicking on this logo: