Mushroom Kingdom


Over the vacation, one of my foodie dreams came true.  Foraging for mushrooms!  Nothing gets this city girl more excited than an outdoorsy hunt for something that draws the line between delectable and deadly.  So far so good, I have lived thus far to say so.

After our culinary adventures in Nice,  we spent the final leg of our vacances high in the mountains of La Cévennes in South Central France.  We were camped out at a friend’s grandmother’s home.  Luckily, I already have a sentiment for old, musty summer homes.  As a kid, I was first acquainted with mildew and shag carpeting at my grandparent’s groovy Michigan farmhouse.   But flash-forward to 2012, imagine a turn-of-the-century, 3-story roadside hotel. The stairs are laced with Grecian keys.  The walls are ripe with tropical fruits.  It was all a little too reminiscent of The Shining.  But who needs to sleep on vacation anyway, right?  Nevertheless, our days were spent seeking out swimming holes, ‘borrowing’ currents from the neighbors garden, and an intensive ping-pong tournament in site of Rio 2016.  Although outnumbered, I am happy to report that team America did just fine.

Although a rainstorm would usually put a damper on our summer fun, it promised a new crop of mushrooms!


A cork board in our host’s kitchen proudly collaged photos of cèpes, porcini mushrooms even bigger than portabellas.  Local gossip insisted that mushrooms were left and right, just waiting to hop into a sautee pan.  Flaunting my American optimism and my hankering for an amazing omelette, I insisted we take along two baskets just in case.


But after two afternoons of hunting, foraging, seeking, and/or destroying, the only thing in our baskets was a single pied de mouton, or hedgehog mushroom.  Like all things French, it was treated with egality.  It got chopped up into tiny bits and thrown into some fried fingerling potatoes.  Tant pis.

Many thanks to the frog behind thefrancofly, mon mari, for the delicious snapshots of the hunt.

P.S.  Thefrancofly is now on Pinterest!  Share your favorite foodie illustrations with all your friends, both virtual and real.

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Even the kiwis are French!

I am a real foodie now!  I’ve started buying locally and seasonally.  Farewell, sweet bananas and pineapples from faraway.  See you sporadically!  However, I made a recent discovery.  Over Christmas vacation, we spent a few days at a friend’s cottage in the mountains near La Cévennes.  The only fruit in the house were tiny kiwis no bigger than my thumb.  And they were local, harvested just nearby.  I always assumed that kiwi’s acidity and zippy vitamin C meant their origins were more tropical than domestic.  But as winter fruit, they add a bit more variety to the apples, clementines, and grapefruits that fill the colder months.  But since Spring has sprung, I should scrap this watercolor.  It’s completely out of season!

Does this discovery come as a surprise to you, too?