l'incident de champignons

It’s that time of the year again; the air blows crisp, leaves begin to rustle, and weekend activities change from barbecues and beaches to apple picking and pumpkin latte sipping. Here in Provence, Autumn means hunting boar and foraging for mushrooms.

In the (almost… eek!) four years that I have lived here, I still have yet to go mushroom foraging and I’m pretty sure the following story is the reason why. Heck… pretty sure, I’m damn sure. Wild mushrooms have left me traumatized; so much so that I now re-post this horrifying tale every Autumn as a warning to myself and others.

[Originally titled The Mushroom Incident and posted October 22, 2009] 

Let me start by saying that this should have been a much happier post; a post about delectable wild mushrooms and the beautiful gourmet meal I would cook using them. But I’m not that girl and that’s not me.

And I will also say that this incident, that will henceforth be known as ‘The Mushroom Incident‘, occurred over a week ago but I have had to let a little time pass before being able to write about it. Oh, and one last thing, please forgive me for any rambling that may follow, I’m still a little bit traumatized…

It all started on a Sunday evening. We went to Papa’s house for a chat and drink (Rosé for me, Pastis for The Boyfriend). Papa had been very busy that day and he was quite chuffed with himself. Not only had he gone hunting and killed a wild boar (not with his bare hands – he’s not Super Papa) he had also done some mushroom foraging and had a large bucket of the biggest mushrooms I had ever seen. These things were like Alice In Wonderland mushrooms, you could picture little frogs relaxing underneath with a good book and a little martini.

Seeing my excitement, Papa grabbed a bag and started stuffing mushrooms into it, all the while speaking rapidly in French giving me instructions for proper preparation and cooking with the Boyfriend translating over him. I nodded that I understood, smiled and said, “merci“.
We headed home with the plan of having them for dinner the next night. The Boyfriend told me to leave them out, so I found a large bowl and left them on the counter. (Now this was my mistake, I should have covered them, they’re mushrooms not fruit.)

The next morning I was excited, trolling the internet and reading my cookbooks looking for the perfect accompaniments for Papa’s wild mushrooms. Then the Boyfriend called. He said that he was still thinking about the merguez sausage and couscous I had cooked the night before and if there was any leftover, that’s what he would like for dinner. He assured me that the mushrooms would be fine to cook the next night, Tuesday.

Now if you have read my older post, ‘Pizza Night‘, then you will know that Tuesday nights are Pizza Night in Le Petit Village and that very next Tuesday, my mushroom Tuesday turned out to be the night I learned about Pizza Tuesdays, so without expanding anymore, you know that I did not cook the mushrooms for dinner. However, a phone call to The Boyfriend’s Grandmere did take place where she advised The Boyfriend to partially cook the mushrooms that evening, refrigerate them, and then finish cooking them on the Wednesday.

Fine, I’d enjoy my pizza and partially cook the mushrooms.

Then my Boyfriend’s kindness intervened. “You’re tired, don’t cook them. Just put them in the refrigerator and cook them early tomorrow, they’ll be ok.”
Happily and tiredly I agreed. The bowl of mushrooms went into the fridge and up the spiral stairs to bed we went. (I should have listened to Grandmere.)

The next day after my coffee it was time to do some mushroom cooking. And that’s when it happened…

Opening the fridge I was greeted by the most disgusting sight someone could see. Not just any someone, but someone who had spent the last two weeks cleaning cleaning cleaning her (previous Boyfriend bachelor pad) home to make it feel comfortable enough for a girl to live in. That comfort that I had only just begun to feel was now stripped off of me like a warm duvet on a cold, rainy Monday morning…

Little maggots! Yes. Little recently hatched maggots were slithering up the back of my refrigerator. Freaking out, I slammed the door and phoned The Boyfriend at work. “Maggots!” I screamed. “What?” he asked. Terrible time for language difficulties. I grabbed my translation dictionary, trying again, “asticot!” The response I got was typical of a man who is not really paying attention and also not there to have to deal with it. “Oh“.

Oh, ok, my problem I guess then.

I hung up the phone took some deep breaths and went to work. Grabbing black plastic sacks I emptied every bit of the fridge; two dozen eggs, sandwich meats, fruit, vegetables, chorizo, my cheese box, butter… everything! And of course the mushrooms. The mushrooms that I had once loved but had now turned against me. Damn Judas mushrooms. The black sacs went out to the bins. It was now extermination time. I got a spray bottle of disinfectant and let my inner Terminator possess me. I sprayed until the inside of the fridge was coated with pink chemicals but there was no way I was cleaning up their little carcasses. The Boyfriend could do that when he got home.

Payback for the unsympathetic, “oh“.

I closed the door, washed my hands, took a shower, and went to bed with a book until The Boyfriend got home. Oh, and I also did what every other ‘woman’ my age does. I called my mother and cried.

To finish up my re-telling of ‘The Mushroom Incident’ this is what occurred when the Boyfriend got home; 1) Upon opening the fridge he asked, “where is all the food?“. Seriously??!! 2) He then put a glass of wine in my hand and ordered me to the couch (smart boy). 3) He disposed of the little carcasses and washed the fridge with bleach and boiling water as instructed by the internet. 4) We went to Papa’s and ate some of that wild boar. It was delicious.

So that’s it. It’s been eight days since and honestly, every time I open my fridge I squint at the back wall. All ok so far. And on the bright side, now I have a super duper clean fridge

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17 responses to “l'incident de champignons”

  1. This is one of my favorite stories here on your blog! Sounds like our seasons are very similar.


  2. Brings back memories of reading about your early adventures in LPV 1 and the dreaded Nazi Ghost Zombies.


  3. Oh God! What a shock! Hooray for you being brave and cleaning it out – I would've left them there, taped the door shut and bought a new fridge… ;-))


  4. Definitely expected a magic mushroom story, ha-ha! But maggots, gross, and in the fridge! I found two caterpillars on my broccoli the other day, and the broccoli had been in the fridge for days, ahh! 😦 Danica


  5. Fun to read!! Glad you reposted it!!


  6. Ugh. I would freak out. I don't blame you for being scarred by mushroom picking… I'd never go either!


  7. Every time I eat wild mushrooms, I think of you 🙂


  8. Ps just for info–I couldn't even bring myself to reread this as it freaked me out so wildly the last time…


  9. Ugh, what a nice surprise in your fridge! You poor thing!


  10. Great story ~ It totally freaked me out! Maggots in the fridge! I'd have run screaming from the apartment! Glad it's behind you!


  11. GROSS!! And I would have left them for hubby to clean to, if he had said “oh” to me. EEEWWWWWW!


  12. You are too funny Sara Louise! I love reading your blog and have been doing so without commenting for a few weeks now. But after this story I just had to tell you what a good writer you are…and how much I love reading about your adventures each day. I taught high school in Canada for many years (mostly Creative Writing and English) and if I knew that at least some of my students would develop your way with words I would be a happy woman! Looking forward to reading many more of your stories.


  13. Oh my word, I TOTALLY remember reading this! And I remember being kind of horrified. : ) It made me happy that you had to do none of the clean-up. What a great guy you have!


  14. Oh my goodness. I'm just imagining what I would have done! I think I would have left the house! I'll never look at another wild mushroom in the same way again and as for storing them in my fridge – I don't think so!!


  15. and THAT right there is why I don't eat mushrooms…


  16. Oh my! I can't even imagine! But thanks for the laugh!!


  17. All I can think after reading this is, what would have happened if you'd eaten the mushrooms? Do little maggots add a distinct flavour to mushrooms, perhaps?!


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