A Foraging We Will Go
Almost sounds like a song from the folk mega group Bellow Head, they sing, A “Begging we will go!”
So I am not begging but sitting in a converted goods shed, next door to Canterbury West Railway Station, and surprisingly it is called the Goods Shed. It is a farmers market, that is open 6 days a week from 9 am, with a fish stall, a butchers, a general stall selling Kentish cider and beer, a bakery, a wine merchant, a fruit and vegetable stall and a couple of Cafes, they have a
chart on the wall comparing prices with the local supermarkets, so shoppers can compare .
But what am I doing here? Well I am waiting for Fergus the Forager to appear, at this point in time am not too sure of his organisational skills, as I caught an early morning train from London, to be here for 9 am and then, oops, it has turned into 10 am! Ah well we shall see!
So he has just appeared, he is over subscribed for this course, so Dave, one of the foragers has been despatched to find his car, so we can get to the woods, en masse! One look at Fergus’ car makes me wonder if it has ever passed a vehicle inspection, the front is taped together and the radiator has sprung a leak( hence an enormous plastic jerry can which came in very useful as my chair). But never mind. We are off to the woods. We begin with a talk on fungi in general and he
has lots of specimens and we learn how to identify them. Bottom line? Not so easy! Firstly one should buy a couple of books,
one or two of them slim line editions but a couple are indeed weighty tombs, but then one does need to be sure, after all it is a matter of life and death!
Many years ago, whilst living in southern Germany, we decided that we should ” do” as the locals and hunt for mushrooms.Our field guide was a bit confusing, on one side, the description was highly flavourable ,whilst on the other it read ” deadly poisonous. After much debate,and to no conclusion, we fed them to the dog! Quelle Horreur, I hear you say, well, he lived as did we!
Hence my second debut into the life of foraging!
Well we did find lots of various types of Funghi, some of which were very much edible, others
edible, but not wildly exciting and others to be avoided at all costs. Some were Rock hard and indeed looked like Rocks , whilst others felt like leather and could be mushed up and made into paper. Dave ( he of extra car)
declared that he had hunted mushrooms for years and his rule of thumb was ” if it smelt like a mushroom, then it was a mushroom, hence safe to eat” well I guess he had just been lucky over the years, as this not a good rule at all.
So our best edible find were the chanterelles, not a huge amount, but they were just beginning to
poke through the undergrowth. After discussing all of our finds, we were bundled back into the
vehicles to another wood, where some of us did wonder, if In fact this was where we were to be
“bumped off” with the headline ” Foragers gone missing” But no! Deep into the wood we found
half an oil drum hidden away, Fergus, unpacked his enormous rucksack and proceeded to cook
lunch, soup, pasta with our chanterelles and a fake crumble, with pears ( windfalls of course )
and some type of foraged berry.
Fergus did not partake of this foraged feast, as he is currently living on, chestnuts ( usually ground and made into some type of porridge) walnuts, Hawthorne berries, nettles, a type of seaweed and a couple of other berries, the names of which I can not remember.
Not a diet that I would relish I think., I think he is quiet mad, but then I also think we need more mad people, it would be very boring if we were all the same.
As for Funghi ?, maybe this weekend? Maybe I will have to test them on Himself, as we no
longer have a dog!