The hazards of living with a Russian include having purple mushrooms on the menu ...
After some slightly tentative early steps to recreate the походы за грибами (mushroom picking outings) of my husband's childhood, we have gradually built up a certain amount of mushrooming expertise over the years. We have several preferred woods within striking distance of London that we try to visit in the autumn and a selection of known mushroom (ceps, chanterelles and several less-known varieties) that we collect and eat on a regular basis. In particularly good years we have even produced dried and salted mushrooms (pickled without vinegar) for use later in the year like 'proper Russians'.
This year, however, was a terrible mushroom year. Or perhaps it was simply a very late or very early mushroom year, but the result was that, when we went out in search of mushrooms at our usual time, we found none. And the pressures of family life mean that we can't simply pop out every weekend to check on our fungi friends. Result? A frustrated and desperate mushroom picker who, on a walk in Epping Forest this weekend, decided that that anything that wasn't clearly poisonous was worth a go. Hence this evening's offering: several pale purple mushrooms (Wood Blewitts, apparently), one skinny bright purple one (an 'Amethyst Deceiver', I am told) and a floppy tattered orange one (simply a 'Deceiver'). The deceiving fungi sound pretty dodgy to me, so we've adopted our usual tactic in these circumstances: we cook the mushrooms - dear husband tries them - if he's alive and well tomorrow, others can try them too.