In which Kavel Rafferty ventures beyond Barcelona city limits into the woods, in search of fungi.
They love the mushroom season here, there’s even a prime time television programme about it. Ever since I moved to Barcelona four years ago I’ve pestered my friend Ricard to take me wild mushroom picking. At last the day came, and a few weeks ago I received a text message inviting me to the woods.
It was a bright autumn day and after a strengthening cup of coffee four of us set off on a two-hour drive into the mountains and a small town called Vic. We drove along small twisting country roads until we located the exact spot for good collecting. Ricard began young, picking mushrooms as a child with his dad and uncle, so I had total confidence in his knowledge of bolets (that’s Catalan for wild mushrooms), something which is essential when dealing with fungi a proportion of which can make you very ill, and some may even prove fatal – stories of which Ricard told us along the way.
My three companions made a curious sight, grown men with wicker baskets picking their way through the woods, avoiding a tremendous number of cow pats and peering into the undergrowth. And peer you must, mushrooms are hard to spot and edible ones thin on the ground. I found some pretty ones, some huge ones, some ugly ones and a fairy ring of evil ones, but very few that were edible.
We finished the foraging with a decent haul of almost three kilos of edible bolets, mainly Pinetells and Rovellons the most common of the wild mushrooms found in Cataluña, and a plan to meet later in the week for a mushroom feast.
We drove back though small villages and stopped for lunch in the village of Perafita, where 10 euros bought us three courses, accompanied by a rough red wine sweetened with casera and beers, which seemed ample reward for our labours.
I'm not suggesting anyone goes picking wild mushrooms alone or without guidance, but it's so lovely to see the Catalan woods and mountains, so different to what you expect of Spain, that if you get a chance to see venture outside Barcelona, then take it. And if you don’t, find a good restaurant that has bolets on the menu for a delicious taste of the Catalan forest.
You can see more of Kavel's work on her website.
And for more Barcelona, don't forget to pick up our map!
Our guides are printed in England on 100% recycled paper