Monday, May 23

A Manner of Mushrooms

“Why are there so many types of mushrooms?” She looked upset as she turned from each basket to another. Some squidge with deformed caps, some brown but not because they were dirty and then some perfectly white and mushroomy. “We don’t need that many, no body needs that many mushrooms.” He lifted his shoulders and then let them drop all of a sudden. She reached her hand forward as if she was going to decide which type to use this evening by picking each one up to feel its weight and texture. He imagined the Shiitake being squeezed by her fingers, the gills pressed by her nails until they easily tore. “Those might be a bit strong for what we’re making tonight?” Her hand hovered over the umbrella-like caps and then moved on to the other basket.

There in the smaller basket was offered a shriveled dark brown and grey variety. “Who could possible want to eat these?” She seemed maddened and on the point of tears. He came up close to her, just allowing his shoulder to brush against hers and he felt her arms rest a little. “These are dried,” he said, but not in a way that sounded as if he knew more than she did. “I think they’re called Porcini. You know how you like those mushroom risotto balls I make? Those are made with porcini stock.” She nodded her head slightly. He leaned in towards her shoulder, ushering her towards the basket beside the porcini. “Are they always dried?” He looked at her, “they’re dried today,” he answered.

Her mouth tilted up at the edges. Her eyes seemed happier. “These are white button mushrooms, right?” He nodded, a bit relieved. “Can we use these in tonight’s dinner?” “Yip, definitely, we could use these.” But then he pointed to the Crimini, a small brown mushroom. She looked over in the direction of his hand. “They look kind of similar to those ones, what are those called?” She pointed back to the white mushrooms. “Those are Agaricus, these ones are similar, but these have a bit more of an intense flavour.” She looked from white to brown, white to brown. And then her eyes settled on the brown Italian sort.

“Bonjour monsieur, nous voulons 750 grammes, s'il vous plait.”

She took the brown bag in her hands and seemed thankful that it was all over. “What do we need now?” He looked up, allowing his eyes to run along all the stall fronts of fresh vegetables from this morning's harvest. “Fresh thyme and rocket.”

Inspired by Antonio Carluccio's, 'The Complete Mushroom Book: The Quiet Hunt,' a present I recieved from my sister, Rachael, and her husband, Matti, this last Christmas.

Butter and Thyme Mushrooms on French Sourdough
perfect with a glass of red wine

a bag of mushrooms (Crimini or Agaricus or your favourite)
1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves roughly chopped and rubbed (or dried thyme)
1 Tbsp butter
one thin slice or gruyere (completely optional)
extra virgin olive oil (the green stuff)

Slice your mushrooms. Heat the butter in a skillet. Add your thyme and allow the butter to foam. You may need to add a little oil if it seems as though there is not enough cooking liquid in the pan. Add your mushrooms and coat them with your butter and thyme mixture. Cook, stirring them around the pan every now and then. Once mushrooms start to release a bit of liquid, this means they are cooked enough. Usually around 6 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, on a plate place your slice of sourdough and top it with a slice of gruyere (this is of course optional). Wash your rocket. Once the mushrooms are done, scatter them over the sourdough. Top with the rocket, shaved or grated parmesan, drizzle with oil and a litte extra salt.


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