I'm still wandering around in the forest
waiting for most of the mushrooms to grow.
There are none at the moment even though
we are supposed to be at the peak of the season, but the rains
we had by the end of the summer were not enough and the forest
was still far too dry for them to grow.
Hopefully they won't be long now. Cold winds
from the north (Tramuntana) and humid winds from the Northeast
(Gargal. "Tramuntana i Gargal, fred, pluja i temporal") brought a big storm to the Islands that was reactivated and
gained more power as soon as it was right above the sea because
of the very high Mediterranean temperatures for this time
of the year.
This tempest was the biggest in the last
decade for us here in Ibiza (in Mallorca they say that it
was the biggest they have had for the last thirty years or
The storm affected all the western Mediterranean
from the northern-African countries, with quite a few fatal
victims in Morocco, Argelia and Tunisia, through the East
of Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Catalan Country with
at least six fatal victims, three or four of them in Mallorca,
none in Ibiza-Formentera.
But winds blasting at over a hundred kilometres
per hour have devastated our littoral with damage estimated
at more then 4,800,000 euros (800,000,000 pesetas) just for
the two Islands and there are still a few boats to be rescued
from the rocks, if this is possible. The damage and ecological
impact inland was also awesome, with hundreds of trees uprooted
or broken, most of the oranges and lemons on the floor, plastic
greenhouses destroyed, etc.
We were not in the heart of the storm, so,
it could have been much worse. For instance the rain and hail
that did a lot of damage in other sites was beautiful for
us here. We have had plenty of good and gentle rain, not too
much at a time, in the last week, well over one hundred litres
per square meter. This is about fifty per cent of what we
had for a full year in 1997-98-99 and so this is the good
news for us about this storm. The strong and devastating winds
have also stopped with the end of the rains. Welcome to this
very much-needed water!
So even the mushroom season is quite advanced
and we have already lost half of it. We still can trust on
finding a few within the next month, too at the most, depending
on the weather. Let's hope the Sun keeps shining as now, temperatures
don't drop too much and strong Northwest dry winds (Mistral)
don't rise up.
The firsts edible mushrooms to appear here
in Ibiza, will be "Russula delica" - there's plenty
of them and practically nobody collects them because very
few know about how good they taste if done properly.
"Amanita ovoidea" - "Farinera"
as a local name, one of the few of this family on the Island,
the biggest of the "Agaric" type of mushroom that
grows in our fields can reach over twenty centimetres - the
diameter of its hat - thirty centimetres high, all white.
It is edible and good when young and eaten in some parts of
Spain, though I have never tried it, I don't trust the amanitas
(there is also here a very similar type, "Amanita ovoidea,
proxima dumée" that is classed as toxic by other
books) and I find something repulsive in its smell).
"Cantharellus cibarius" (Chanterelle) only a few of them grow in parts of the forest
where "Cuscoi," a small type of autochthonous wild
evergreen oak, grows too, most probably in symbiosis with
its roots. This is very aromatic (apricot-like) and tastes
as mushrooms are known and appreciated in most of Europe,
unknown by the great majority of people from the Island.
"Boletus bourdieri" and
similar species, also plentiful, but only to be eaten while
they are very young, also ignored by most of us,
"Psalliota camprestris" "Psalliota
edulis" (Field mushroom), two very similar species with
the "classic" cultivated mushroom that we buy at
the shop, "Champignon de Paris" or "Psalliota
bispora", all excellent to eat.
"Psalliota" or "Agaricus"
as they are called at present times. This is a type of mushroom
that can be confused with the deadly poisonous white "Amanitas"
(not in Ibiza, there are none of them here) because of its
colour, size and the ring of the stem. But the gills are first
pink, then turning chocolate brown when they start releasing
the spores, to almost black with time (it is better not to
eat them then). They never have pure white gills and are always
without a "Volva", a kind of bag or cup around the
base of the stem, as the "amanitas" have. Another
way to recognise the "Field mushroom" is by smelling
them; they smell pleasant and sweet, anisette or almond-like.
The smell and the taste are two of the signals that we can
use to identify the different species: sweet, bitter, hot,
etc. There is no danger or problem at all in picking up and
tasting a little bit of any mushroom or toadstool if we spit
afterwards and do not swallow it. Even so, is better not to
do it in front of very young children.
At the same time and in the same type of
coniferous woods that "Pebrasus" grow, we also have
"Hygrophorus latitabundus" and "Hygrophorus
personii" "Llenegas" as they are called in
the Catalan country, where they are one of most appreciated
and expensive common mushroom, also untouched by the Ibicencos.
"Hydnum repandum" (Wood Hedgehog) "Lepista nuda" (Wood Blewit) "Coprinus comatus"
(Shaggy Ink Cap) "Clavaria flava" "Hohenbuehelia
geogenia" "Helvella lacunosa" "Licoperdon
perlatum" (Common Puff Ball) "Rhizopogon luteorubescens"
(Common Earth Ball) "Armillaria mellea" (Honey Fungus)
and the "Pleurotus" "Gomphidius" (Peg
Top) "Clytocibe" etc., already mentioned last week,
all grow in our Islands, some quite common and abundant, but
with very little profit for the great majority of us.
The last one to grow in our mushroom season
is "Tricholoma terreum" a lovely little mushroom
that it is not too much effected by the cold, as its Catalan
name reminds us, "Fredulics". Another common name
for this specie is "Ratuli", (little mouse) because
its dark-grey hairy hat looks like it. They are very abundant,
basically because they are not collected or even known by
locals, though they are very well known and appreciated in
most of the parts where they grow, especially in Catalunya
where they keep an expensive price, excellent in soups or
omelettes, fried or in sauces.
The best thing to do for enjoying these
lovely bites is to get a good book about how to cook the local
mushrooms. There is always one at least for every country,
where we can find all kinds of recipes for all the different
species of them.
But even so, most of the fungus that we
see is not edible, some are poisonous and they should be all
respected. None of them should be destroyed because somebody
else will know more about them than us and may find interesting
what is indifferent to the most. Also animals will eat what
we don't eat, for instance, the old boletus are like big maggot
pies to birds, such as the Thrush "Turdus philomelus"
"Tricholoma fracticum" one of
the most common and abundant - though inedible - of our mushrooms
are a real delicacy for goats and sheep, rabbits, snails,
lizards, insects, etc. They also feed themselves with the
mushrooms, even poisonous ones, so, let them be where they
Fungus, apart from giving us a richer and
more varied cuisine, as well as feeding a good quantity of
animals, also tells us a lot about the health of the forest.
The number of species and the quantity of them can give us
a lot of information about the forest where they grow. Even
the ones we collect have to be picked up with respect and
should be cut gently right below the stem, without damaging
the moss or the grass and plants around them; they are living
and fragile beings and therefore they deserve respect and
good manners like any one of us.
Cantharellus cibarius (Edible)
Lepista nuda (Edible)
Coprinus comatus (Edible)
Amanita ovoidea (Edible)
Hydnum repandum (Edible)
Amanita ovoidea (Edible)
Hygrophorus latitabundus (Edible)
Tricholoma terreum (Edible)
José P Ribas