How do you like your … morels ?

How do you like your … morels?

I’m visiting a friend in a village north east of where I live who sometimes becomes a Humphrey Appleby, (you know, the character from the BBC show Yes Minister) and who gently tells me what I should not do in a way which always sounds so rational, even if not exactly ‘brave’.

You would upset too many people, that’s why.

Upset who?

Certain locals who enjoy them and have their own special places where they look for them and collect them. They would be devastated if word got about.

You mean I shouldn’t talk about something which is currently enjoying a bumper year, is delicious (apparently), can be foraged for in our own surrounding bushland and could bring gourmet food enthusiasts to the area right through September and into October. The B & B’s would love it, and the shopkeepers would love it. What is the downside other than putting the noses out-of-joint of a few of our local gourmands? These things are selling for $100 a kilo in the Melbourne market. Shouldn’t our readers know about what is growing on their doorstep so that they might at least, if they choose, taste them? Surely it is another small thing in the region to be proud of along with our vineyards, honey, pistachios, goat cheeses, Harcourt apples and local olives and olive oil?

OK. I’ll tell you what the downside could be. The early morning arrival of a dozen car loads of city folk, each equipped with a bag, and spreading out across the hills. By late afternoon, they’ve collected every available, likely-looking, edible thing, loaded up the car and headed off back to the Footscray market, or wherever. That’s it in a nutshell. No. We must keep these things under wraps. People will find out about it if they really need to or want to know.

OK. How about I write about the big carp infesting the Loddon River above and below Hamilton’s Crossing? A local fella who sells fishing worms told me the “bloody wogs love them”. Just imagine a dozen cars loaded with carp-loving families turning up with nets and buckets and carrying away a kilometre or two of European Carp. We could probably find them a grant from DSE!

The other option would be to not publicize the abundance and location but quietly publish a recipe for carp cakes and tips for preparing your carp. 1. Boil till you get something that looks like soup. 2. Sieve carefully to remove the hair-like bones. (An elderly Polish gentleman once told me that if you did not prepare carp properly, you ended up with a bowl of wet cotton wool laced with steel wool.)

With the abundance of both strong and delicate flavours available these days, I’m sure our local gourmands could creatively come up with a successful carp experience just so long as they knew where to find the carp. I’m already planning a Carp Thai Curry with side dishes of lemon grass and ginger fish balls and yabbi crackers.

Now, if I could just find about 30 grams of whatever it is that I’ve forgotten I was told not to write about, I could knock up a rather nice snack. I would find a kilo and half of prime steak, from a farm-born, raised and slaughtered beast that has hung for at least a month in a cool spot – ideally from a fifteen month old Galloway or Angus steer from a property overlooking the ocean somewhere in the south-west of the state where the constant onshore winds from the Great Australian Bite bring salt and mineral laden mists onto the mixed species pasture the cattle feed on. To the liquid I would get from cooking that which I cannot name, I’d add some dry sherry and a couple of dobs of double cream, pepper and salt – and anything else that seemed appropriate at the time – and this sauce would grace the medium rare steaks lying on the plate beside those things I cannot name. Finally, I would add a bowl of Brussels sprouts drizzled with a local olive oil to which you would add sea-salt and pepper to taste. Your choice of a local wine tops it off …What do you think?

Why don’t you write about mushrooms? People used to go mushrooming a lot. Yes, that’s what you should do, write about mushrooming. It would get people up early and out and about and away from their miserable talkback radio. I think you should write about mushrooms.

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