Eating foraged mushrooms is an unnerving experience – especially the first time – very especially when you have young children who couldn’t fend for themselves if you fell dead into your risotto. Which is why we only eat mushrooms that cannot be confused with anything else.

Like this one.


It’s called Helvella crispa (or White Saddle, Elfin Saddle or Common Helvel for short) and is the wildest looking wild mushroom you’re ever likely to pick. It can’t be eaten raw and is a bit of a pain to clean, but well worth the effort.

It’s actually the first wild mushroom we ever ate.

First we looked it up in two mushroom books, which are both in French to add room for error. Then we took it to a pharmacist trained to give safety advice on mushrooms, who didn’t recognise it (a bit of a worry there) and had to call us back to confirm its edibility (which is a word I’ve never written before). Finally we ate it, probably on toast with some cream – and lived to write the blog.

Ever since, we’ve waited for it to appear on the same patch of drive, never knowing exactly when that will be. One year a wild boar got to them before we did (presumably the don’t-eat-raw law doesn’t apply to them) but yesterday I made a momentous discovery while chasing another hunting dog. There’s a second patch of them in the old pig area.

Or at least there was until just before dinner last night. Yum.

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