The champignon

It was great year for pasture mushrooms (Agaricus campestris). They thrive on all that horse manure in our fields!

When I collect mushrooms it brings me back to my childhood and a special story involving my dad and my French grandfather. My mom was from Lyon in the Provence region of southern France. My dad and her were married in France at the end of World War II and eventually settled in my dad’s hometown in southern Illinois. My French grandparents would occasionally come to visit us during the summer months. My grandfather was a very particular man and a connoisseur of food and wine. Like most Europeans, he was also an expert in identifying edible mushrooms. It so happened that one evening he came home with a bag of pasture mushrooms that he had collected around our farm. My mom prepared the mushrooms precisely according to his instructions. I remember that he even chose the wine (French, of course!) for the meal. The mushrooms were delicious! However, we all noticed that my dad was not eating the mushrooms but, instead, was intently watching my grandfather as he consumed one mushroom after another. We finally discovered that my dad was determined not to eat a single mushroom until he was certain that they would not make my grandfather sick! It took a long time before my grandfather would forgive him for not trusting a French mushroom expert. A few years later my dad developed his own interest in mushrooms and we would go collecting together. So when I collect “champignon”, as my mother referred to them, I always remember my French heritage and the time I had with my dad as a kid in Illinois.