It’s mushroom season in the Alsace and, like many other city-dwellers, we headed out to the woods yesterday to enjoy some country air and the last of the incredible sunshine which is still bathing the area in spite of the fact that Christmas is only nine weeks away (aaarrrrgghhh!)
You have to be very careful, though. Even touching something like the monster in the photo can cause serious problems. There are so many different kinds of fungus which proliferate under the dark ferns of the forest, shyly peeping out from under the dead leaves, or indeed standing tall and in your face like this one. And even putting a bad mushroom in the basket with the others means that you have to tothrow the whole lot away. We went with a friend who is a part-time wild man of the woods and can read the forest and all its signs. He can look at a vague pock mark in the mud and say “Hum, a wild boar was eating chestnut kernels here”. “How on earth can you tell that?” I asked him on several occasions. But he could always give a plausible explanation for his deductions. I couldn’t contradict him anyway… Yesterdays’ mission was finding, in descending order, girolles (the queen of mushrooms) and cêpes (which I hate to use when cooking as they are slimy and glutinous but brilliant when dried). Our friend strode on ahead, poking through the dried leaves and very unselfishly rooting out the small, light beige heads of the pieds de mouton mushrooms which, sadly, were the only kind of edible fungus we came up with yesterday. After four hours’ walk we came home with enough to make sauce for two lamb chops. Not such a good haul. But it was a magnificent day in the forest.
Thankfully, we didn’t come across these two colourful creatures. Instead of doing an ‘afternoon’ list (I put all my suggestions on the Mother Ship anyway…), I thought I’d share my current musical obsession with you all. The album’s called The Trials of Van Occupanther by Midlake. It was, again, a ‘turn right at the traffic lights and go once more round the block’ moment when I heard the first track – Roscoe - on FIP radio. I can only describe them as “Fleetwood Mac-meets-The-Alan-Parsons-Project-meets-Radiohead”, although they describe their influences as being Jethro Tull (gulp). Wikipedia tells me they were formed in 1999 in Denton, Texas. This album was released in 2006 and it seems there’ll be a new one this year “tentatively entitled” The Courage of Others. Here’s their website.
No particular question this week, but do let me know what you think of Midlake. The first track, Roscoe, blew me away and is representative of the whole album. Enjoy….