30 November 2009

More about boletuses

That's what the dictionary says is the word to use for mushrooms of the genus Boletus. They are called boletuses or boleti, and the species called Boletus edulis, the Bordeaux Cep, is only one of very many members of the family. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a boletus is: “A fungus of the genus Boletus, having an umbrella-shaped cap with spore-bearing tubules on the underside and including both edible and poisonous species.”

Despite what our pharmacist, Mr. Martineau, said, I'm pretty sure the mushrooms we got were not the noble Cèpe de Bordeaux. They were much more likely a species called Xerocomus badius (or Boletus badius), known in French as the Bolet Bai and in English as the Bay Boletus. Wikipedia notes that the Bay Boletus, though “often considered a poor relation of the Cep (Boletus edulis) ... is nevertheless highly regarded by some authors...” In Bolet bai or Bay Boletus, the term “bay” describes the chestnut color of the mushroom cap.

Here are a couple of pages from the Larousse des Champignons,
including the page about the Bolet bai mushroom.

After all, as Chris said in a comment yesterday, describing her experiences in the town of Alès, several hours south of Saint-Aignan, French pharmacists might have some mycology training and expertise, but they are not infallible. In Saint-Aignan, the woman I consulted in the second pharmacy just used the term bolet to describe my mushrooms, and then told me how to trim and cook them.

Drying the boletuses on a towel on top of a radiator

Well, I trimmed them but I didn't cook them yet — at least not the caps. I'm drying them. I cut them into slices, and this morning I have them drying on a towel on a hot radiator. We've bought dried boletus mushrooms before, and they are very tasty. I think we got them at the big Tang Frères Asian supermarket in Paris. We are out of them at this point, and the Paris-Store in Blois doesn't have them. They have dried shitakes, and we have bags full of those. They are good, but they are not Boletus edulis, dried ceps.

The mushroom caps ready for slicing...

Make sure you take a look at Leslie's blog, eat.sing.ride, for a topic about Ceps gathered on the California coast. They look beautiful.

...and the stems chopped for cooking with some chopped onion

I sliced the boletus mushroom caps for drying, but I chopped the stems and added them to the meat portion of a Zucchini Moussaka I made yesterday with the remains of the Thanksgiving Day leg of lamb.


  1. I'm enjoying all the mushroom tales. Drying some seems like a good idea. How was the moussaka? Did you put lamb in it?

    The suspense is building for your actual eating one of these beautiful fungi. Bon courage et à demain!

  2. Oooh, I bet that moussaka was great.

    I am enjoying the best thing about November: my 3rd turkey sandwich, and then turkey soup for dinner tonight!


  3. Got the Massif book - small but full of good info!!! that and other tourists and landlady's input will do nicely!!! too bad its along time off! Dale

  4. Beta-glucans is what make the ceps slimy. It is very healthy for you.
    Everyday is a feast at your place.
    I wonder what you guys are going to cook for Christmas?

  5. Porcini in Italy... little pigs... another boletus edulis. On my cousin Teresina's sideboard, in her dining room in a village in the Piemonte region of Italy, is a photo of her father proudly holding a porcino the size of a basketball.

    My mouth waters at your 'shroom tales, Ken!

  6. Hi,

    Been enjoying your blog for several months now.

    I'm trying to find a copy of the Larousse des Champignons with the fabulous artwork that you referenced. Can you provide more information?


  7. Hello Craig, this is the book that I have: Champignons: Larousse Nature en Poche. There are a lot of mushroom books available on Amazon.fr.


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