The Day of the Mushrooms

Along the river Aar

There is something strange about this time of the year. The paths are covered with leaves and deserted except for a lonely figure in the distance. The figure drew closer and suddenly disappeared, pulled to the side of the path by an unseen force. I heard a scream, but I walked on.

“Can I help you”

There was no answer just the sound of the wheels turning on a bike that was laying on its side, through their own motion. I cast a glance to the side of the path, but there was only the river, slugging its way through the surroundings and the I saw them at the river’s edge.

Mushrooms

They were creeping in from the edge, engulfing the green leaves of the vegetation. You could almost watch them expanding, digesting everything that stood in their way. It was all beginning again, it was the season of the mushrooms. I looked around and then I saw him. He had landed in a patch of ……. yes, wait for it – mushrooms of course. The cyclist picked himself up, brushed the spores from his clothing and mounted his bike.

“No problem” he said “my bike slipped over a patch of mushrooms and I fell, but no harm done.”

He cycled on further – did I see a mushroom sprouting from the rubber of the back wheel? They are everywhere. It was then I heard another call for help, this time somewhat stifled. Then I saw it.

Mushrooms

“Take them away, remove them, they are taking over. I can feel their stalks probing into my bark.”

It was a tree, another victim of the mushrooms. I pulled the mushrooms away from the trunk, the tree let out a sigh of relief and wanted to give me a hug. Yes, trees also hug, not only humans, although I decided that being squashed by a tree would not be ideal. Unfortunately the mushrooms seemed to think that I was their new host and decided to adopt me. They began to multiply and were soon covering my legs, which made it difficult to walk. Each time I removed one, two grew in its place. Perhaps I should have accepted the invitation from the tree.

I hurried, the mushrooms growing all over my arms and I even had one on my face. There was only one way to cure this invasion I decided. As soon as I arrived home I took a pan, heated some butter and plucked the mushrooms from my body throwing them into the melting fat. Oh, they screamed and struggled, but I had them where I wanted them. I added some white wine, which seemed to calm them, they were now quite relaxed, it must have gone to their heads. It was when I added the cream into the sauce that I knew I had won the battle.

Yes, it was a very tasty meal, but I decided that Autumn walks have their disadvantages. That evening i saw on the news that mushroom invasions were taking place all over the country and the police warned to avoid them and above all do not pick them. I wanted to know more, but the newsreader was suddenly overwhelmed by a mushroom attack. I had a lucky escape it seemed.

When you see mushrooms, you know it is Autumn

mushrooms

Today Mr. Swiss and I ventured out in the Autumn weather. The sun was shining, there were still some brave cows in the fields, although mainly in groups to shield off the cold wind blowing, but they survived. We noticed the horses had their winter covers on. They were not as brave as the cows.

On the long walk back I was scouring the ground for interesting things to photograph and saw a clump of mushrooms. They sort of belong to the local Autumn vegetation. I quite like a mushroom sauce, generally in white wine and cream, but the sort of mushroom I discovered were probably not the edible sort. We have people that make it an Autumn hobby to go searching for mushrooms.

We have an official office that examines your discoveries. I remember when my stepson brought some mushrooms home many years ago from a field belonging to a nearby farm. We were not sure if they were edible or not, so I went into town to find out. The official mushroom man happened to be a local policeman, so I had to go to the police station. He examined the find and discovered they were button mushrooms of a very good edible sort. The next question was where we found them. He said I would have to ask the farmer permission to keep them, but knowing the farmer there was no problem.

The mushroom collectors have a sort of secret mushroom sense to know where to find them and often if you go into the woods you can smell them. On the way home I discovered another sort, but also not edible. Eventually we arrived home tired, but happy and no I did not cook mushrooms for tea, we already had some in a sauce for lunch.

mushrooms

Mixed Herbs and Mushrooms

Herb mixture

What do you cook when you have a garden with herbs and it is Autumn, something autumnal I would say. In the garden I had marjory, thyme, sage and rosemary. I decided some parsley would be handy. I have some in the garden, but the curley leaf sort, which is OK but I prefer the large flat leaved sort, the wild parsley, as it has more taste I find. I also needed some basil as mine had already gave up the ghost. It needs more sun and less rain, and Autumn is not very good at that. I bought it all in the supermarket as well as some chives. I have chives also in the garden, but as I keep cutting it for salad sauce, it cannot grow fast enough.

Actually I was inspired by a Bavarian cooking programme on the Bavarian German channel on the TV yesterday evening. Their star cook, Alfons Schuhbeck had a programe showing his idea of good Bavarian food, naturally accompanied by a German actor,  Elmar Wepper, who I am sure you have never heard of. His brother, Fritz Wepper would be more well known perhaps, for his rôle in the film Cabaret, with Lisa Minelli.

Anyhow Alfons decided to throw a handful of fresh herbs in everything. Mr. Swiss and I found it interesting and today I was Mrs. Alfons Schuhbeck in the kitchen. What I really liked was the way he deal with the garlic. I usually just chop it into thin slices. I do have a garlic crusher, but it seems to me you lose too much. Alfons just took a fine grater and grated the garlic over the pan, so I decided to try it as well, and it was a success. Garlic is not everyone’s taste I know, but Mr. Swiss and I like it.

Anyhow to continue. After chopping all these herbs with a sharp knife (no, I did not cut myself – I was the female version of Alfons Schuhbeck after all), I found some spring onions in the fridge which I had almost forgotton. In our part of the world we slice and cook them. My mum just threw them on a plate of salad raw – the english style I suppose.

It was then I got to work on peeling the mushrooms (the type we call champignons, not too small, and white) and then I sliced them. Alfons did not have any mushrooms, he had a Bavarian sausage. Mr. Swiss and I don’t usually eat meat during the week for lunch. We are not vegetarians, but don’t have to eat meat every day.

So now everything is ready for cooking. Next step take a frying pan, melt butter (I love my butter, although my doctor finds olive oil would be more healthy). On the other hand I am supporting the drug industry by taking a cholesterol tablet every day to keep things under control. Always look on the positive side of things.

Fry the sliced prepared mushrooms in the butter and when nicely fried, add white wine (I don’t know how much but don’t empty the bottle, just a jet of wine will do). I then flavour it with Aromat (we are Swiss, it is flavoured with Aromat, otherwise you can use salt), ground pepper and of course do not forget to grate the garlic over it all. I then put my sliced spring onions into it.  Add the herbs and now you have a frying pan looking like this.

frying mushrooms and herbs

Just eating a plate of mushroom, herbs and spring onions would be monotonous, so as an accompaniment I decided on Pasta. Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes, so I use what I have. I had a packet of Cravattini (sort of bow tie shaped) and they were ideal. As we say in Swiss German “en guete” (a phrase uttered before you start eating. The english language does not seem to have any equivalent, but you could sort of start a meal with “good eating everyone” to compensate).

Mushrooms and pasta

Saturday Morning Autumn Market in Solothurn, Switzerland

Kathi and Marianne

I am not really a market person, too many people and too much noise, but I do enjoy visiting our local market town of Solothurn in Autumn on Saturday morning. I had wanted to go since the beginning of October, but the weather was not so friendly, too much rain. Now the sun was even peeping through so I decided now or never. It is a colourful market, full of the products of the surrounding farmlands and a wonderful reward for my camera. I left home with the local train and five minutes later I was ready for action.

The stalls on the market are usually in the same place and you get to know where everything is. The reason for this photo is because the two ladies are friends of mine. The lady on the left is the boss. She has a farm and most of the products she sells are from the farm. She was also the president of our village first aid group, of which I was a member for some years. There is not very much she does not know about helping if there is an accident. She is also a member of the cathedral choir. Her pumpkin soup is famous amongst members of the first aid group, as she always supplies a home made soup for our annual Christmas get together. Of course the pumpkins were a product of her farm. On the right is one of her daughters who is a fereral policewoman when not busy serving on the market. This daughter is also one of my neighbours and I know her very well. It is usually a family business on Saturday morning and her son or daughters are usually assisting.

As I was walking past the stall I asked if a photo would be OK and she said yes, but just take an action photo, nothing posed, so I did. The stall holders are always to be found in the same place, it is all organised with council permission. There is a lot of work involved on having a stall on the market place. Most Friday evenings and through the night the fruit and vegetables to be sold are prepared, as well as making sure that the hens have produced enough eggs I suppose and early on Saturday morning the complete stall is loaded into their vans and taken to Solothurn, where it is built up and ready for customers. The market is probably from about 7-8 in the morning until lunchtime. At lunchtime everything has to be removed and put into storage for another week. Some of the stallholders are also on the Wednesday morning market as well. At lunchtime the street cleaners come into action and by the afternoon there is no trace left of the market.

The market is guided by the season, which is one of the reasons I like the Autumn market so much, because of the colourful show of Winter vegetables. My personal favourites are the marrows, squash, courgettes or whatever you call them.
More marrows

Of course there is also a stall specialising in different types of mushroom. These are call bolets in English it seems.

Bolete

A market would not be a market without flowers, and at this time of the year heather is quite in season. I usually plant some in the garden, which stays through the Winter for a colourful show until Spring.

Heather

It is also custom to have roasted chestnuts in Autumn. We do have a kiosk in Solothurn. Year after year the same family come to Solothurn in Winter from the Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland and stay, selling the chestnuts, which are actually a special sort known as “Marroni” to the Swiss and are not the same sort you see on the horse chestnut trees that grow in the local woods. Those are for animal consumption. I found some on the market. They are encased in a prickly coat, and are the only ones edible for humans.

Marroni

After an hour I decided it was time to go home. I had a dinner to cook, although there was no rush. I walked home as I just missed the train and decided a half hour walk would not be too exhausting.

I took a lot of photos, but it was worth it. Did I say sunflowers are quite in at the moment, so here is a photo of what the market had to offer.

Sunflowers