Tuesday, July 06, 2010

In the mushroom caves

The tour lasted about an hour and the caves were a cool respite from the heat of the day. The tour guide was animated and she did all the explanations in English as well as French. There were quite a few anglophones on the tour with us. I'm glad my French is decent, however, because the guide's English was heavily accented and her translations were a bit off.

The processing plant and retail outlet for the local mushroom caves.

For example, she would translate grands chefs as "good cookers." In British English, a cooker is a stove. She also talked about mushrooms being sold in cans (tins if you're British), but the French word for cans is boîtes and it also means "box." So, she kept referring to mushrooms being sold in boxes. There were all kinds of little things like that in the English version of her tour which, coupled with her accent, made the English a bit difficult to understand.

One variety of mushrooms called le pied-bleu, or blue foot, for obvious reasons.

But I don't really think it mattered too much to the anglophones in the group. Everyone seemed to get the gist had a good time. Still, there was much more information in the French version of the tour. There are four or five varieties of mushroom grown in the caves at Bourré. We'd walk to where each variety was growing and stop for another installment of how mushrooms grow, how long it takes, how they're harvested (by hand), whether or not the mushrooms needed light (some yes and some no), and why some of the growth medium (composted and sterilized manure) was sitting directly on the ground while some was up off the ground in what looked like little bed frames (air circulation).

Our group standing around bales of compost with sprouting mushrooms.

And speaking of manure, the tour guide told us that the growth medium is used for only one batch of mushrooms before it is discarded. She said that the locals take the used compost for their gardens and that's why all the gardens in Bourré were so productive. Ken, not one to miss an opportunity, asked her when they gave it away and if anyone could get some. Yes, she said, but you have to live nearby. Well, I do, Ken told her. She said to just stop by any time to see if there was some available and they'd let him take it.

Champignons de Paris (button mushrooms) for sale in the boutique.

Free compost for the garden! And that's not just a load of...


  1. I say cooker all the time LOL
    Very nice pics!

  2. The year we met you and Ken (2009) we did the same tour and were amazed of the sculptured village at the end of the tour.
    Thanks for the memories.

  3. Looks like my backyard in the wet season.

  4. Oh, what an opportunity! Mushroom compost is the BEST.

  5. That was a tour worth taking!

  6. Maybe you could provide English lessons in exchange for mushrooms?

  7. Our kitchen is built around our Aga cooker.

  8. Compost is black gold, lucky you!


  9. What a hoot!
    I remember buying a chunk of rotten stuff in which to grow mushrooms. It was rather fun to do.

  10. vtt, you must have learned British English!

    leon, we did that, too!

    rick, mine, too, unfortunately.

    chris, we'll see if it works out.

    evelyn, it was very informative!

    starman, a fair exchange, indeed!

    will, but of course. A British cooker, that Aga.

    bettyann, let's hope for the best!

    michael, we had one, too, once in SF.


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