10 July 2010

Blue-foot mushrooms

I had never heard of blue-foot mushrooms before we moved to Saint-Aignan. They are one of the four or five varieties of mushrooms grown in the old limestone quarry tunnels at La Cave des Roches in Bourré, near Saint-Aignan and Montrichard.

Blue-foot mushrooms in a glass display case
at the Cave des Roches
— not very blue-footed

In the past, the mushrooms produced here in the Loire Valley were mainly what are called in French « champignons de Paris » — "button" mushrooms. This standard variety was first grown commercially in the network of old quarry tunnels that lies under the city of Paris; hence the name.

This jar of champignons pieds bleus cost 6.50 €

Now the Cave des Roches grows several other varieties, including both brown and yellow oyster mushrooms, shitakes, and blue-foots. They sell them to chefs at high-end restaurants in France, Britain, the U.S., and elsewhere, who want something less run-of-the-mill than button mushrooms.

The label says to cook the blue-foots with butter, garlic,
and parsley on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

Look at this Google search result. One page listed here says the blue-foot is too mild-tasting to be interesting, and another says it is so strong-tasting that it can overpower your palate. We've eaten them twice in the past week, and our palates haven't been overwhelmed. The cooked pieds-bleus are crunchier than cooked button mushrooms, but they don't have a lot more flavor.

On these cooked pieds-bleus right out of the jar,
you can see the blue stems.

"Crunchy" isn't the right word, of course, but I can't find a word to describe the texture. I kind of like it, but I'm not sure Walt does — he says they are slimy as well. He says he prefers champignons de Paris. Eating a pied-bleu is a little like eating a crunchy cornichon or dill pickle — I'm talking only about texture, not taste. The blue-foot is not tender, soft, or mushy, that's for sure.

This is a gratuitous photo of our vegetable garden this year.
Click on the picture to see it full-size.

We probably won't be rushing over to Bourré to buy more pieds-bleus any time soon. But I think I will go over there and buy some oyster mushrooms (pleurottes in French), both the yellow and the gray kinds. I'm sure I've eaten them before but it's time to try them again.


  1. The first time I heard the name 'blue foot' (when we visited the caves de Bourré in 2000), I thought it was an Indian tribe ... You know like the 'Black foot'! :)
    And I don't mean that disrepectfully.

  2. If you ever visit Galapagos, you will see blue footed boobies that are very cute.

    I can't believe how lush your garden looks! Maybe that's because I'm comparing it to my parched little plot chez moi.

    I do think that the former kings of France knew to locate their castles near fertile soils for the nicest produce.

  3. Don't forget to pick up some
    compost while you're there....
    I'd love to be able to get my
    hands on some of that.

  4. The garden looks very "healthy" and lush. The tomato stands/guides look artsy amongst the plants.

    Guess what !! it poured yesterday afternoon with some flash flooding in some areas and this morning the weeds are flourishing. So instead of watering , I will have to pull those "pests"

  5. Sorry, the B., weeding is always an unpleasant chore, and especially so when the weather is hot and humid. Bon courage.

  6. Walt's description of the pieds-bleus, is like my description of okra (which I do not like at all).

  7. The "potager" looks great.
    Maybe the blue-foot mushrooms are meatier that the champignons de Paris.
    This morning I went to Marukai (Japanese grocery store) to buy a bunch of different mushrooms as well as Imo. They are japanese sweet potatoes that have to be steamed, not baked. They have a very delicate flavor and are very sweet.

  8. Hi Evelyn, our garden does seem lush. We've been watering it. Tomorrow temperatures are supposed to fall back into the high 70s, with some rain showers. A system is moving into France off the North Atlantic.

    Sheila, I do have to get some of that mushroom-growing compost, but probably in the spring, when time comes to work the soil in the vegetable garden again.

    Starman, see, I love okra. Grew up eating it. Have tried to grow it, but didn't plant any this year. It needs really hot weather, I think, coming from the Near East and Africa originally.Okra and tomatoes, fantastic. P.S. Walt likes okra too.


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