When I was little the Waldron family (that’s us) used to go on extremely long walks in the countryside. With my dad at the lead, ordinance survey map in hand, we would head out from whatever youth hostel we were sojourning in and walk for hours and hours in what was purported to be a circular route. We were quite a sight to be seen. Three small children in walking boots, walking socks pulled up around our knees (jeans tucked in of course), woolly hats and ruddy little faces skipping along quite merrily on 15 mile hikes (I may be exaggerating slightly). On these walks there were always three books in the trusty rucksack: birds and wildlife, flowers and plants, and fungi.
Way before “foraging” became en vogue it was quite regular for us to stumble across some wild mushrooms and after a quick check in the book (and a casual observation that they could be either these edible ones or these deadly poisonous ones), they were picked and ready to be fried up on toast for the next day’s breakfast. Staggering disregard for the health and safety of his children aside, this is what makes my Dad my Dad. From foraging mushrooms, to winkling in rock pools, to feeding us raw mollusks by the sea, my Dad always instilled in us an adventurous and fearless attitude to food. We were never afraid to try something and were often all too eager to. I can remember my Dad ordering a fruit de mer platter in France when I was tiny and demanding to try an oyster.
It’s nice to know that some things never change. A couple of weeks a go when Sven and I were visiting my parents in Wales where they are renovating three dilapidated old barns, my Dad whipped out his trusty fungi book and gathered up three different types of wild mushrooms and some cob nuts whilst we were on one of his epic walks.
Usually I’ll give anything a go. I have a stern constitution and a stomach of steel. However, considering I was at this point 14 weeks pregnant I hesitated (an instinct which was quickly confirmed by successive darts of the eye from my Mum, my brother’s wife and Sven). Probably not worth the risk.
However they really did look so pretty, all their colours mixing in together. My brother and sister stepped up to the plate in my stead and they proved to be absolutely fine. Anyway, despite not actually eating them, it was lovely to see that my Dad still forages, and continues to have an admirably enterprising approach to food and to the bounty that nature offers us.
And look how gorgeous those bright orange buttery juices look. Spoon please.