Derbyshire Life - - Food & Drink -

As the busi­ness grew, the cou­ple soon re­alised that it wasn’t only the prod­uct peo­ple were in­ter­ested in but also the ex­pe­ri­ence. ‘We meet loads of peo­ple on our walks who say they used to go out with their grand­par­ents and for­age, but it’s all gone, like a missed gen­er­a­tion,’ says Deb.

Bengt de­cided to take a Swedish qual­i­fi­ca­tion to be a so called ‘mush­room con­sul­tant’. Un­like my­col­o­gists, who are mostly con­cerned with clas­si­fi­ca­tion, the role of the mush­room con­sul­tant is a light­weight prac­ti­cal ap­proach to mush­rooms. ‘It’s driven by the need to in­form the pub­lic about mush­rooms and en­cour­age them to get out and about,’ says Bengt. With an em­pha­sis on tak­ing away the fear of pick­ing mush­rooms and giv­ing peo­ple the tools to do it them­selves e.g. cook­ing, prepa­ra­tion and preser­va­tion.’

Whilst study­ing, Bengt no­ticed the dif­fer­ences in cul­ture be­tween the UK and Swe­den and soon set about teach­ing peo­ple the way he was taught. ‘It was when I was writ­ing my es­say for my mush­room con­sul­tancy course that I looked at the dif­fer­ences in ap­proach to funghi in Swe­den and Eng­land. I no­ticed that in Eng­land peo­ple are put off be­cause of health and safety. They are told to com­pletely avoid pick­ing any mush­rooms and there’s a lot of bad ad­vice around, which scares peo­ple off quite a lot,’ says Bengt.

The two soon set up for­ag­ing walks where the aim is to teach peo­ple the way Bengt was taught, start­ing with iden­ti­fy­ing be­gin­ner’s mush­rooms that are com­pletely safe to eat. ‘We try to give them two or three char­ac­ter­is­tics in the mush­rooms they come across that they can then recog­nise them­selves. In the course of the walk we will look at the char­ac­ter­is­tics that dif­fer­en­ti­ate the Cep fam­ily from other fam­i­lies, for ex­am­ple,’ says Deb.

‘When we take peo­ple out on the for­ays some of them are re­ally wor­ried,’ adds Bengt. I tell them to re­lax be­cause we will teach them keys to iden­tify wild mush­rooms, and that in­cludes how to avoid the re­ally nasty

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