Saturday morning, La Malbaie. A dozen or so individuals of all ages are getting ready to forage for wild mushrooms in the stretch of forest behind Amyco boutique. The excursion, led by mycologist Anthony Avoine, begins with a brief overview of the safety regulations, notably the characteristics of toxic mushrooms to be avoided at all costs. Next, each member of the group is handed a mushroom knife and basket before slowly heading off in the direction of the forest, where, overseen by their guide, they’ll step off the trails in search of edible mushrooms. When a participant calls out that they’ve found one, everyone hurries over in excitement. Anthony Avoine identifies and explains the mushroom’s particularities (form of the cap and stem, colour, gills, etc.). “The majority of participants know very little about wild mushrooms,” points out Avoine. “However, they’re all very curious about this fascinating universe. Foraging for mushrooms is exciting and lets you spend time in the great outdoors.”
Approximately 3,000 different species of mushrooms grow right here in Quebec. During the summer months, the edge of the boreal forest in Charlevoix is just brimming with chanterelles, lobster mushrooms, boletes and porcini. During the fall, particularly after a rainy summer, you can find even more varieties. Foragers can harvest umbilcate hydums, funnel chanterelles and hedgehog mushrooms.
After the excursion, a propane stove is unpacked, the mushrooms are cooked and the foraged feast is enjoyed along with a glass of wine. At the end of the day, participants leave with their culinary treasures. Anthony Avoine’s tours, offered from July to October, are often fully booked; this year, the company plans on launching excursions in the Eastern Townships.
Initiation to mycology programs and tours are launching in almost every region in Quebec. Renaud Longrée, mycologist, hosts “mycogastronomic” weekends in collaboration with Club Gatineau: “After beer and cheese, foodies are now turning their interest to the various textures and flavours of mushrooms. Chefs at many fine restaurants feature mushrooms on their menu. Plus, wild mushrooms are a perfect example of eating local.” Ariane Paré-Le Gal, from Gourmet Sauvage located in the Laurentians, agrees: “There’s a high demand for mushrooms. People love their mysterious side and they love how fun foraging for them can be.”
For an introduction to mushroom foraging:
PHOTOGRAPHY: Chantal Lapointe