We are the champinones: Mushroom feature

Mushrooms are in season, in vogue and soon to be in a dish on your table, writes Iona Napier

LAST UPDATED: 12 Nov, 2015 @ 15:13
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CURSE not the autumn rains!

MUSHROOM: Amanita Caesarea
MUSHROOM: Amanita Caesarea

Although we wave goodbye to unbroken sunshine and welcome the wellies, we can also celebrate the arrival of the mushroom season.

And Spain is a huge producer with a passion for cultivating these little fungi, of which there are over 50 varieties in Andalucia alone.

While mushroom-tasting menus sweep the country during October and November, fungi in all their forms – from oyster to button to chantarelle – are a common dinnertime staple.

Peasants and patricians alike can enjoy the delicacy in Spain, where it sells for around €2.30 per kilo, compared with the British supermarket (Tesco) equivalent of €6.80.

Vegans and veggies love the protein-rich food as it can be used as a meat or bean alternative and at 30 calories per 100g, it is also popular with the weight-conscious.

One thing is for sure, chefs here know their mushrooms and are imaginative with their recipes… from mushroom and manchego croquettes to truffle-stuffed turkey on Christmas day.

Did you know?

Spain and the Czech Republic are the only two European countries where the possession and cultivation of magic mushrooms is fully legal.

Almost all (95%) of Spain’s  mushrooms are produced in La Rioja and Castilla La Mancha, and the country is the world’s leading producer of the Pleurotus, known as the ‘oyster’, ‘abalone’ or ‘tree mushroom’.

Whether you’re scouring the Pyrenees for mushrooms or stuffing a canvas bag full of them at the grocer’s, one’s thing for sure – mushrooms are at their tastiest now.

High in iron, low in calories and rich source of vitamin B12, C and D, they are so original that they have their own kingdom.

Not quite a vegetable and definitely not an animal, the mighty mushroom is truly unique!

Queen of the woods

A domestic delicacy, the exquisite mushrooms ‘amanita caesarea’ variety (see photo above) were named as such because the Roman emperors favoured them.

Also known as ‘the king’s egg’, it is one of gastronomy’s favourites.

In search of a prime mushroom concoction? Try ‘revueltos’, an easy, quick fix combining free range eggs, mushrooms and ham.

Mushrooms aren’t the only thing in season in Spain in November

The round, seedy pomegranate – whose Spanish name is shared with popular city, Granada – is believed to have been introduced by Spain to the Americas.

Orange – An iconic Spanish fruit (we grow over three tons per year!), the mighty orange can fight even the harshest autumn cold.

Chirimoya – Spain is the world’s leading producer of the weird and wonderful custard apple – think a marriage of pineapple, mango, and strawberry milkshake.

Kiwi – Rich in vitamin C, this fruit is grown in northern Spain from Galicia to the Basque country.

Chestnuts – open fires in the street serving up smoky chestnuts in paper cones are the ultimate softener to winter in Spain.

Artichoke – Spain produces the world’s most artichokes after Italy – whether grilled with garlic or stuffed with cheese, they are irresistible.



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