Foraging is a national pastime. It’s in the national psyche. There is a certain satisfaction of getting something for nothing; it’s fresh and tastes twice as good. The pickings around here are plentiful but you need local knowledge about when to find things and where to look.
We are in the middle of the Jonquil season. For three weeks the woods north of Cormatin are visited en masse and stripped of their jonquils, a tiny wild daffodil. I have no idea why, as once picked they do not last long. Signposts lead to car parks where buvets are set up to provide refreshments.
Today saw the first day of the trout season and groups of men dressed up in full gear were to be found fishing in the ditches that drain the fields. The run-off from the mountains at this time of the year brings down abundant trout.
Very soon we will be looking for the wild asparagus amongst the wild garlic in the woods above the village. Dandelions are picked before flowering to make salads, especially tasty with bacon and a lightly poached egg.
There are many edible types of mushrooms. If in doubt you can take your basket of fungi to the pharmacist to make sure they are safe to eat. We were told the secret of where to find morels but we have yet to find any (under the ash trees near the voie verte!). When collecting mushrooms you use a loose weave wicker basket to let the spores drop out along the way and propagate. Luckily I happen to have made several baskets with holes in the bottom in our vannerie sessions!
Of course in the autumn there are blackberries, walnuts and chestnuts along the hedgerows. Figs and hazelnuts, apples and cherries are also plentiful.
Then we are into winter again and the hunting season. A most popular pastime using dogs which are kept solely for hunting. They say that without the hunt wild boar and deer would overrun the countryside. Despite that I am always pleased when I pass hunters standing out in the cold and rain not finding anything to shoot.