01 March 2019 by Jessica Boston
Food and foraging in the Dordogne
The Dordogne is a wonderful part of France for a foodie holiday – the local produce is exceptional! Markets and restaurants are full of delicious dishes and many local specialities feature duck and goose, cep mushrooms and luxurious perigord truffles.
Local people have always made the most of the treasures to be found in the countryside gathering mushrooms and hunting for the precious truffles. In the right season you’ll find mushroom markets where people sell the mushrooms they have found, bartering with restaurant owners and keen cooks to sell at the best price. Everyone has their own secrets about where different mushrooms can be found – from chanterelles and morels to the highly prized ceps there are so many varieties to discover.
Forage for your own mushrooms
If you want to try your luck at foraging for mushrooms on your holiday, you can simply grab a bag and set off into the countryside. The mushroom season starts from the middle of August and continues through the autumn. Woodlands are a good place to search with the areas under chestnut and oak trees being an ideal spot to find some fungi. You may also find wet soil is more likely to ensure there are plenty of mushrooms, so going out after a rainstorm is another good tip. Early morning foraging is advised to get to the best mushrooms before animals and insects or other mushroom hunters do!
Mushroom hunting etiquette requires that you use a sharp knife to cut the mushroom stem leaving the root in the ground to encourage further mushrooms to grow in future. You can use a pen knife or buy a special sheathed mushroom knife to take with you.
Take expert advice
If you are lucky enough to find some wild mushrooms it’s extremely important to get them checked over by an expert to make sure they are safe to eat. As well as delicious edible mushrooms, there are many varieties that are poisonous and can cause illness or even death if eaten! You can see why it’s so important to get them checked before you get busy in the kitchen with your foraged fungi! Fortunately you won’t have to look far to find a mushroom expert in the Dordogne; you could ask market traders, restaurant staff or your gite owner for advice, or simply take your mushrooms to the local pharmacy to have them certified as safe to eat.
If you’d like to learn from a pro you could book a guided excursion with a ‘professional’ mushroom hunter who will show you where to find and how to recognise fungi to pick and those to avoid.
Book a guided truffle tour
If it’s truffles you’re after it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll find any unless you go on an organised tour. The black truffles this region is famed for are harvested between December and March and are usually sniffed out by a specially trained dog. Truffle dogs can locate the precious truffles underground so they can be carefully unearthed and brushed clean ready to use. Truffle tours at the family run ‘Truffle Domain of Saleix’ are offered in English or French and come highly recommended. Book a guided ‘truffle hunt’ tour where you can lead the truffle hunting dog, hear about the history and cultivation of truffles and hopefully find some too! You’ll then get a chance to taste some truffles and buy truffles and truffle products in the farm shop. Find out more at www.truffe-sorges.com