As the financial markets imploded and governments around the world desperately threw good money after bad, we were at a market in the South of France spending (accidentally) â‚¬6.65 on a single mushroom. At the time of writing that’s about a fiver. A fiver for one bleeding mushroom. It had better be good.
So how does one prepare the most expensive mushroom in the Universe? Well as we were on holiday in France the only appropriate method of cooking seemed to be by simply slicing and frying in half a pound of good quality butter. Veronique, the woman who shamelessly sold us our Cep, secretly included a small bunch of parsley, so we assumed this was a traditional accompaniment.
The cooking time was a lot longer than expected as the stalk/stem was quite woody. In fact by the time this was tender enough to eat, the cap and especially the gills, had taken on a slightly disturbing soft jelly texture. The flavour was subtle, distinctive, not at all mushroom-like, and overall an almighty disappointment.
I also had the irrational feeling that in my ignorance perhaps I had omitted to remove the famous and lethal Cep poison gland which every Frenchman learns about in infancy. The headline ‘Another pair of stupid English killed by their breakfast’ popped into my head and wouldn’t go away.
Sadly, the bulk of our â‚¬6.65 investment ended up in the bin and we readily ate cheese instead.
So there you have it, not a particularly successful meal, but perhaps a suitable metaphor for the current financial meltdown.