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I made mushrooms on toast for breakfast this morning. Perfect for a chilly winter morning. They weren’t very fancy — just sliced mushrooms (from the supermarket) cooked in a little bit of butter, with a little finely chopped onion,  a sliver of minced garlic, fresh thyme and some pepper. I often add bacon and maybe a dash of Worcestershire sauce, but it’s more or less the end of the fridge and I had no bacon. But it was yummy.

When I was a little kid (up to the age of around 7) my family and I used to go mushrooming a lot. I adored the hunt for the mushrooms, but I never wanted to eat the cooked ones — I used to think of it as a black mess. Wild mushrooms are much stronger than the commercial ones I buy now.

But these days I’ve been reluctant to go mushrooming because just about everyone I know says it’s dangerous, and some mushrooms will kill you. I know that, and I feel reasonably confident that I know the safe ones, but I was only small when I used to go hunting them with the family, and I get rattled by the warnings and so don’t go. It’s a shame, I think. Maybe I’ll sign up for a foraging course when the season for that comes around.

I do think some people overreact. I once scattered spent mushroom compost over my front garden to enrich the soil, and was thrilled when some time later, mushrooms started popping up. I knew they were safe, the compost having come from commercial mushroom farms, and I was looking forward to the morning when they were big enough to pick and cook  for breakfast. But some “helpful” person must have decided they were dangerous, because they came into my yard and kicked the mushrooms to bits! So annoying!

So for me, now it’s commercially grown mushrooms.  I’ve bought bags of seeded (spored?) mushroom compost to grow my own, and they were great fun, and very satisfying to grow, but that was in the days when there were four of us in the house, and we could deal with the multitude of mushrooms we ended up with. But now I think of it, after I do my shopping tomorrow, I might make mushroom soup. I used an Elizabeth David recipe that thickens the soup with bread. It’s delicious and very easy. From her book, French Provincial Cooking, my copy of which is very battered and well-loved. I often use chicken stock cubes rather than proper stock, and whizz it in a blender, which is much quicker. It’s still yummy.