Caught by the River

Street Morilles

Dexter Petley | 14th April 2009

by dexter petley

in my occasional role as mushroom correspondent, i have a small miracle to report. april is a good time to scrub last autumn’s rust off your mushroom knife and go hunting spring morilles. they are there, but take some finding. half the problem is finding the time, for in april there is the garden, and for those of you who swish feather and fur, there is the trout. I do have a humble tip for the trout anglers: look behind you; look down at your feet. morilles and trout streams have sympathy. the morilles are on the banks of sandy streams because they are delicious eaten with trout.

a morille might prefer mountain country, the trout streams, under hedges, or the betweens and the edges of forest & field, but they also
like a good outdoor fire. the easiest place to find them if you don’t have natural habitat to hand is round the back of the supermarket
where they burn the rubbish. the other day laure went shopping into her nearest market town perched high on a hill here in normandy. some of you will have seen the results of our mushroom foraging on cbtr. now and then, usually when waiting for trains, i have found mushrooms in semi urban conditions, but it’s not where we go. we have mushrooms in the woods and fields on our doorsteps. so morille hunting was the last thing on laure’s mind the other day. she was foraging round the back of intermarche where the bins are, where evil supermarket managers order goods to be dumped, whatever their condition. you can feed yourself from these bins, and laure does. you can build your home from recuperated materials, as i have. but the other day she noticed a pile of unsold christmas trees they’d slung out 4 months ago and tried unsuccessfully to burn. her 12 year old girl aloyse made the miraculous discovery. growing round these charred trees she saw sprodaic rings of morilles, black, brainshaped morilles, conical mekons, these very ones in the trug:


spored off the poor christmas trees from the jura or the morvan, a revolting trade if ever there was one, turning mountain landscapes into chemical alleys. these morilles even look like pilgrim fathers, desperate migrants colonising a yard away from concrete, stowaways in
another massacre, bible thumped and sackcloth ashed. i cooked them on a slow death in a dutch oven with guinea fowl legs and the last
shallots of 08. these mushrooms are hollow and next time i might try stuffing them with butter, garlic and fresh garden herbs, before the
mayflower sails again.