Finally … I was able to see my dream of going on a ‘real’ mushroom foraging trip come true last Friday. I was not sure we would be able to make the trip … as some wet and maybe even some snowy weather had been forecast for the end of last week … but, as we were slowly heading towards end of autumn and the start of snowy weather, the daddy-man felt that this could be the last chance to do some mushrooms hunting, which he knew I very much wanted to do.
So as we would be going to the parents on Thursday for the mum’s birthday meal … I decided that I would stay on for another day (whereas the hubby would be leaving early Friday morning with his brother to go back to Lausanne for a medical appointment) … so as to be able to go on a mushroom hunt with the daddy-man.
Mercifully, the weather was good and dry enough on that Friday afternoon for the daddy-man to take me to a forest where we could hunt for some mushrooms.
It might not have snowed at the parents’ on that day … but just a few hundred metres up the hill where they live, as well as that of the neighbouring hills, we could see the top covered in white as we were making our way to the forest, which is about half an hour’s drive from the parents’ home.
Approaching the village where the forest is located. It was a beautiful area .. with colourful vineyards on the slopes, Lac Léman and Switzerland in the distance (which, unfortunately, cannot be seen very clearly on this picture).
Driving past a beautiful old cottage … which resembles an English style cottage … as we made our way up the hill.
And after driving past through a nice little village, we finally arrived at our destination … the forest that is located on a hill where we would be looking for mushrooms.
With a big basket in his hand … I followed the daddy-man into the forest.
Along the way, the daddy-man pointed out the many raspberry as well as blackberry bushes that were growing on both sides of the path leading into the forest. Their season was already over … but I could still see some red berries here and there. It was tempting to pick them … but as they were not the reason for my trip to this forest … I decided to leave them in peace. 🙂
Although it was not sunny and not very warm either … I was glad when the drizzle that had started in the morning decided not to turn into a rain and thus the day was nice enough for us to go on what might well likely be my one and only mushroom hunt with the daddy-man this year.
For info, there are only two days in a week when it would be safe to go into the forests to look for mushrooms in the Haute Savoie region (where the parents live) at this time of the year, i.e. every Wednesday and Friday. Although one is not prohibited from gathering mushrooms on other days of the week … hunters are, however, permitted to hunt on these days. So for our own safety, it was best to avoid going into the forests on these days to avoid the risk of getting shot, for having been mistaken for a prowling animal! (As incredible as this may seem, it has happened on occasions and, in fact, we even know of one such instance.)
In Switzerland, the regulations for collecting and gathering mushrooms vary from canton to canton. In some cantons, mushroom gathering is permissible only on certain days of the month … whereas in other cantons there are also limits on the amount of mushrooms that could be gathered on each trip.
Thankfully, in the canton of Vaud (whose capital is Lausanne), the only condition set by the authorities on mushroom gathering is that one must collect mushrooms for personal family consumption only.
And in many of the cantons, there are mushroom inspectors which will help to identify the mushrooms that had been collected to ascertain whether they are safe for consumption. This is a free service run by volunteers. What an excellent arrangement is it not … especially for a newbie mushroom hunter like me? 🙂
But, of course, it is always nicer to go on a mushroom hunt with someone who knows the mushrooms well … at least, the few mushrooms that are edible and delicious to eat … as I did with the daddy-man.
Apart from the berries and mushrooms, there were also chestnuts that could be picked on that day. Unfortunately, we had with us only one big basket … and it was to be used for gathering the mushrooms. So even though it pained me to leave these chestnuts alone, I had no choice … what a pity! 😦
And then … it was mushroom-picking time. I was hoping to find some bolette mushrooms … instead, this forest floor was full of another type of mushroom.
These were the trompette de la mort mushrooms … or in English, ‘trumpet of death’. I do not know why it is called so … but these mushrooms are also known as ‘black trumpet’ and ‘horn of plenty’ because of their shape.
Indeed, there were plenty of them in that forest on that day. Once I had learnt to identify and to spot them, I started seeing them almost everywhere.
My first introduction to the ‘trumpets of death’. They have a rubbery texture and a nice smell … and, according to the daddy-man, they are delicious added to pasta and fondue. From what I had read on the Internet, they are considered a gourmet mushroom and also a luxury as they can only be found in the wild. Lucky me … finding such highly prized mushroom on my very first mushroom hunt! 🙂
While I continued my search on this side, the daddy-man went over the other side. Each time we found a patch, we had to be very careful where we put our feet so as not to accidentally step on them.
It was so much fun … gathering the mushroom … especially when there were so many of them to be picked. Even though we said several times that we would stop as we had had enough … but each time we came across another patch as we were making our way back up the slope … we would stop and pick more mushrooms! It was really, really hard to stop … but soon, we had no choice as the basket was already overflowing with mushrooms and we had not brought any other baskets or bags to continue our mushroom picking … haizzz … 😦
So we had to force ourselves not to look down on the forest floor and we had to ignore those that caught our eyes … as we made our way out of the forest.
As you can see … there was no way that we could put more mushrooms into the basket without them falling over as we were carrying the basket.
Making our way out of the colourful forest … which seemed to be blessed with lots of free goodies … delicious mushrooms, chestnuts, hazelnuts, beech nuts, acorns, raspberries, blackberries, etc. I even saw a huge hawthorn tree which must have been loaded with haw berries just a month or two earlier.
Walking past a cornfield on our way back to the car.
The daddy-man suggested that I ought to climb up the slope in order to have a good nice view of the cornfield … which I did promptly! 🙂
Back to the car …
… and the view of the skyline from where the car was parked. There was this beautiful light as we got out of the forest trail.
But we did not immediately leave the area. Instead, the daddy-man suggested that we take a walk to the other side of the cornfield to check out the view from there. Those trees that lined this path were chestnut trees. But although the chestnuts were very big and edible … they were of the variety which do not taste nice. So apart from the mushroom … I also learnt something new about chestnut from the daddy-man on that day.
And the bounty from our trip to the forest … a big basket full of ‘black trumpets’ or ‘trumpets of death’ … weighing at least 4 kg!
A close-up of the ‘trumpet of death’ mushrooms.
And the reason why it is called a trumpet or a horn!
Picking the mushroom was so much fun and very exciting … but, once home, the mushrooms needed to be trimmed to remove the dirtier bottom half. Fortunately, the mum was kind enough to help me to do so.
Since the mum had only wanted a handful of the mushrooms that we had brought home (as the daddy-man had went picking twice before) … I, therefore, got to bring back home nearly all of the mushrooms that the daddy-man and I had collected on Friday’! I was sooo happy to have been able to bring home a lot of mushrooms … until I realised what a boring and tedious job it was to clean the mushrooms before I could start drying them! Urghhh …
But … I will share more of that in another entry lah! 🙂
Other entries on foraging: