A 61 with headphones Driving down the A61 from Sheffield to Chesterfield I turn off Elgar’s Nimrod and I pull into a layby. I leave the car and with the dog on the lead I find a gap in the hedge and descend through an archaeology of cannabis, strata of clay pebbles and plastic bags. …

Of mushrooms and maggots

Which is the finest wild food? This changes with the season but one mushroom—the cep, the porcini, known in English as the Penny Bun—has risen from the forest floor to stake its claim. I’ve been dreading writing this: the story of the king mushroom. The problem with ceps is that they decay very quickly. When …

The Elusive Pignut

Seeking a small, chickpea-sized tuber above Bradfield. As I walk through fields and woods in the valleys above Bradfield with a group of friends, I stop various people innocently walking and ask them what sort of wild foods they collect, if any. The responses are what I might expect: blackberries, wild garlic in the spring, …

Illicit knowledge, imagination and nature’s bounty

Collecting wild foods draws us into a landscape from which we map the foods we eat. Food pornography generally indexes its lustful or gluttonous representation. For me, it refers more precisely to psilocybin mushrooms. Scouring the fields surrounding my mother’s village in Wales in the late 1970s, I carried with me an already-tattered first edition …