French people are crazy about their mushrooms – the edible kind, not the psychedelic kind (well, for the most part). From April to November, small talk in the countryside consists of the weather and mushrooms. But as much as they like to talk about them, French people guard their coins à champignons with their lives. If you ask someone where they found their mushrooms, they’ll either point over their shoulder and give you a very vague answer, or just answer with a smile.
The king of the mushrooms – the most appreciated and most foraged – is the cèpe. In English, it’s known as a penny bun, or more often by its Italian name, porcini. This year was not a very good one for cèpes, much to the disappointment of one French guy in particular.
What we did find a lot of this autumn was the trompette de la mort, the trumpet of death, more commonly known as “horn of plenty.” Despite its name it’s edible and very delicious, although not very easy to spot. They grow under broad-leaved trees; around here there’s a chestnut forest with horns of plenty a-plenty.
Searching for them consists of sweeping away the leaves with a stick and trying to catch a glimpse. The good news is that once you find one, there are bound to be more nearby. They range from grey to black, depending on the amount of sun they get.
There’s a small one in this picture, see if you can find it!
A great way to prepare most mushrooms is sauteed with some cream. Perfect for eating with some bread, or as a sauce for chicken, steak or even duck. I made a very Halloween-y dish the other day, chicken breasts with trumpet of death cream sauce and roasted pumpkin, yum!