Mushroom gathering, a seasonal event
throughout Eastern Europe, Italy and France, is increasingly popular in
Britain. The French are particularly enthusiastic. In autumn whole
families drive to secret locations to comb the ground for prizes like
shaggy ink caps or ceps. Wild mushrooms are sold in supermarket too.
Oyster Mushrooms - These ear-shaped fungi
grow on rotting wood. Cap, gills and stem are all the same color, which
can be greyish brown, pink or yellow. They are now widely cultivated,
although they are generally thought of as wild mushrooms. Delicious both
in flavor and texture, they are softer than the button mushroom when
cooked but seem more substantial, having more "bite" to them.
Buying and Storing - Fresh specimens are
erect and lively looking with clear gills and smooth caps. They are
often sold packed in plastic boxes under cellophane wrappings and will
wilt and go soggy if left on the shelf for too long. Once purchased,
remove them from the plastic packaging and use as soon as possible.
Preparing - Oyster mushrooms rarely need
trimming at all but if they are large, tear rather than cut them into
pieces. In very large specimens the stems can be tough and should be
Cooking - Fry in butter until tender as they
take less time to cook than white mushrooms. Do not overcook oyster
mushrooms as the flavor will be lost and the soft texture will become