My second year living in Barcelona, my host family asked me “Hey, want to go looking for mushrooms in the mountains?” I thought they were joking, but it turns out that it is a super popular activity in the autumn here in Catalonia. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all of my travel experiences, it’s that it is almost always better to say “yes” to an opportunity. And so off we went to Montseny, a mountain range near Barcelona.
My first concern, of course, was the fact that there exists many toxic and/or hallucinogenic mushroom varieties. When I asked my host family about this, they assured me that we’d be going with some “experts” (aka friends they know living in the mountains) who know the difference between the edible and inedible varieties. As a side note, they also mentioned that there are reports every year of people dying from eating the wrong types of mushrooms – so proceed with caution. Only consume wild mushrooms if you know for sure that they are of the edible variety!
When we arrived to the mountain, I couldn’t believe how many mushrooms I saw all around! White, yellow, brown, red… they were everywhere!
My host family and their friends quickly calmed my enthusiasm. The majority of the mushrooms I was seeing were inedible. I followed the “experts” around for 10 to 20 minutes, trying to decipher which types of mushrooms were the good ones. Like all good things, the ‘good’ mushrooms always seemed to be hidden quite well!
It took me at least 30 minutes to find my first edible mushroom all on my own. It was such a simple thing, but it felt like such a huge accomplishment! To remove the mushroom, you either try to pull it up carefully by the stem, or if necessary, you can use a small blade to cut it at the base. It is common to carry a basket with you to collect them all.
We found 5 varieties of edible mushrooms:
And I found a few others that were inedible, but cool nonetheless:
Some years are better than others, apparently. My host family told me that the year prior all of their baskets had been overflowing with mushrooms – they were absolutely everywhere! Although we did find a decent amount, they said it was nothing compared to the year before.
We hiked around the mountainside for a good 3 hours or so, the enthusiasm only dwindling when our hunger started rising. We headed back to their friend’s house and dropped off the mushrooms for an extra few sets of “expert” eyes to look over the mushrooms (better to be safe than sorry!), just to double-check that we didn’t accidentally pick up a poisonous variety.
Once we were given the OK for our mushrooms, we drove back to Barcelona and decided to enjoy the camagrocs in a Spanish omelette. It takes a surprising amount of work to cut and clean them all. And of course, once we put them in a pan, they shrunk considerably. But it was rewarding to eat what we had scavenged ourselves!
The following day, we cut up the rovellóns and pinetells, which I still can’t tell the difference between. We also added in 2 ous de Reig, which the family’s expert friends had kindly added to our basket without our knowing. The host dad sauteed them all in olive oil, and even though we started with what seemed like a big amount, we each only got a small spoonful of our bounty. But it was tasty, and I highly recommend the experience!
To learn more about mushrooms in Catalunya, visit the official site here.
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