Foraging: A poetry in motion in the Elgin Valley

Let’s go Foraging

You can find me mushroom foraging in a grove of apples in the Elgin Valley. Foraging is a full sensory experience for me and I love the moments where I take in all that Mother Nature has to offer. I close my eyes, empty my mind so I can fully take it in and let the sensory experience begin. The mist tickles my face like an ethereal hand and I hear the slight breeze between the trees, stirring the leaves to life, as if telling me, it’s time. I smell the mushrooms scent wafting pass my nostrils, I inhale –  it is definitely time, let us begin.

Armed with a pocket knife, toothbrush and a nice woven basket, my senses and knowledge drive me forward on my foraging adventure. My eyes scanning the forest floor and apple groves for morsels and then in the distance, I see them catching the first light of the sun. I put my basket down, close my eyes and surrender to the moment. I do it for freedom of foraging my food and to do it right, as that’s always the key. I cut versus pluck, unless I need it for mycelium. I prefer to yield to the oneness with nature, not bending her to my will, rather harvesting sustainably – showing respect to the land and to yourself.

DISCLAIMER: Foraging is dangerous, NEVER pick mushrooms without solid knowledge or a guide. Please ensure that you have done a foraging course and consult your mushroom guide for ID.

Eugene Schroeder

I start by harvesting the aisles I call them, they however give a meagre harvest but I push on. Soon I get an aisle with spring agarics and field mushrooms. Spring agarics are a very dense, heavy meaty mushroom, be sure to always check the stipes/stems, if you see brown cylindrical hollow tubes in it, you too late, mother nature only revels her beauty for so long then she too must move on and so must I. It’s now noon, I have got a nice basket full of foraging finds and on my way back I see a lovely puff ball. The round white looks like a smooth white naartjie, it has an outer layer of skin, no stipe no cap and inside you will get a marshmallow type ball and its superb for sauces. It must be my lucky day because on my way back to the car my trained eye catches a bracket, mostly in polypore family. How lovey, I now got some fresh herbal tea as I see the distinctive style of turkey tail.

It’s been a long day, but very rewarding and now it’s time to make a lovely lunch – Mushroom Pasta. Here’s the recipe, a note on the cheese sauce, a good white sauce gives this dish the respect it deserves, it does add 10 minutes to your prep time.

  • 1 kg freshly foraged mushrooms
  • 1 packet of any cheese sauce
  • Any leftover cheese will help
  • 6 balls of tagleteli (the six min one)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 diced onion
  • As per taste course apple smoked salt (any salt is good)
  • As per taste freshly ground blackpepper
  • 1 egg
  • 600ml water

Method:

  • Brown onions in a deep sauce pan. Deglaze the pan using the water. Continue till brown and translucent.
  • Add diced garlic, butter and mushrooms, salt and pepper.
  • Add pasta and water.
  • Take your packet of sauce powder mix to instructions. I normally use the Knorr ones. Leave to simmer for 8 mins.
  • Add your egg beaten up please.
  • Add a bit of cream if you like, I like using so a half a small can of ideal milk. It’s neutral to a point in taste. So for me it just adds to your sauce.
  • Stirring occasionally, in 15 minutes you are eating.

Trust me this is delicious, you know when you sigh right after a good meal, you’ll be getting that feeling of contentment rushing over you with this recipe.

There is a fairy tale ending to this story. I drove past my friend’s place and gave him some supper – pork schnitzel with a spring agarics white sauce and he couldn’t get enough. That’s my policy of open hands where you help people and pay it forward. Your knowledge is some blessings I call them. I left his spot, knowing that they were going to eat well and they learnt something. From me, I wish this day finds you blessed, may you go forever forward. It’s your time to start listening to your inner voice, and stop listening to your outer voice.

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