Whenever we tell anyone locally where we live, they get a faraway look in their eyes, and say something like, “Ah, champignons”. We then have to explain that yes, the woods are indeed full of mushrooms at this time of year, but we don’t gather them because we have no idea which are delicacies, and which ones would kill us. You can tell from their faces that they can’t believe we’re not fully exploiting one of the the advantages of living up here.
French people generally seem keen on gathering wild mushrooms, much more so than people in the UK. At this time of year families often drive up to the woods around us, leave their cars jauntily parked on the verges, and disappear into the trees clutching bags. There are some edible fungi that are supposedly easy to recognise, but most of them seem look very similar to something else that is inevitably deadly, so we’re leaving well alone.
Here are a just a small selection of mushrooms (or possibly toadstools) that we won’t be picking and eating anytime soon.