Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mediaeval Mirepoix and Monster Mushrooms

The centre of Mirepoix is a magnet for tourists from all over France and abroad. The market square is a magical jumble of ancient buildings of all colours. If you are ever in the area it is something you must see. More information, and pictures, can be seen at this website:

You will note that long ago, the barrage holding back the waters of the great lake at Puivert burst, sending the torrent rushing, probably along our walking route, to flood Mirepoix. We still have some of the lake in Puivert, about which more another time.

Only two days before our Monday walk, Gay and I had cycled the same route in both directions. At one point our eyes were caught by what, at first glance, I thought was a miniature Fylingdales, complete with radar domes, or possibly a miniature listening post. This is a field in which I have some experience but I had never seen the like of these objects (but I am not very clued up about all the recent miniaturisation in the electronics world). Neither have I ever seen such gigantic mushrooms, which is what they really were. Above are a couple of pictures to prove it.

In France one of the duties of a pharmacist is to help mushroomers to identify whether what they have picked is edible. As there is a great variety of types, and the French are great mushroom eaters and pickers, this is a good thing. Some of the most innocuous looking fungi are poisonous and some really horrible looking ones are edible. So much for nature's warnings.

We didn't want to disturb these giants, but wondered if they were eatable, so Gay took the above photographs. When we arrived in Mirepoix on the cycle ride, she took the camera into a pharmacy. The pharmacist refused to even look at the photographs. If we took the mushrooms in he would pronounce on them, but not on the basis of a picture. The compensation culture at work? Or maybe he was trying to protect us. I'm sure he was.

When we walked the same route on Monday the giants had been smashed down. So presumably they were inedible after all.

No comments: