My point of view #25

MY POINT OF VIEW 25 (by Tatiana Sisquella)

 So here we are: the first “My Point of View” article of the Autumn. It must be said that in Catalonia we welcome the Autumn with unusual enthusiasm. While it is undoubtedly true that many people are totally fed up by the end of the Summer with the heat and the same old clichés that are repeated year in year out between June and August, Autumn is nevertheless welcomed with a euphoria that comes more from the nature of the season itself than from that of the one we have just left behind. Let me explain.

When you come round to this time of year, you fish out that old pullover that you’d forgotten all about and that was hidden away at the back of the wardrobe. Suddenly putting on socks gives you a strangely reassuring feeling, and starting to boil up milk again in the mornings makes you feel that little bit younger. The most anxiously awaited part of all, though, is that at long last the hunting season has come round again.       

Catalans love hunting – hunting for mushrooms, that is. Such a simple activity, you wouldn’t think that it could arouse so much passion….

 Going mushroom-hunting is one of the most enduring and most widely-practised of Catalan traditions, and the way I look at it, going to look for mushrooms in the mountains is a little like going shopping for free.

The hallowed routine is remarkably simple. The most important thing is to have footwear that is suitable for long walks in the mountains – this is not the day to try out the latest shoes you’ve just bought for the new season. The type of clothes you wear is a little less vital, but you still have to respect the trend: corduroy, good earthy colours and a pullover tied around your waist are all the rage with mushroom hunters. As far as tools are concerned, you don’t need much: a wicker basket or a plastic bag, and a stick that you’ll probably pick up while you’re walking.

Once you’ve got everything ready, all you need is to find a good place to go to. A wood that’s nice and damp and quite big, and not too close to main roads and barbecue-areas. Remember you won’t be the only ones who have decided to go up into the mountains.

 From now on all you have to do is walk slowly and look for those little fungi hidden among the undergrowth. The excitement you feel when you find first one, and then another one, and then another, is hard to explain. All I can say is it’s much better than actually eating them.

Because that’s where you’ve got to be careful! The only problem with this charming tradition is that taking part in it can kill you. Yes, my friends, this is the truth, and I would be deceiving you if I didn’t tell you. Picking mushrooms is all very nice and even healthy, but eating them can be fatal. The key to the problem lies in knowing how to distinguish the good ones from those that are not so good and from those that can kill you. As you can imagine, it’s better not to take too many risks with the margin of error! Although you can of course always take them to a market and place your trust in the good will and experience of a local mycologist.

QUESTION: Why Barcelona?
ANSWER: Because you still get mushrooms growing there.

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