Ah, old JS and the harpsichord concertos. From April until November, I indulge myself with possibly a pretty unique pastime, fungi hunting accompanied by JS Bach. I go out on my lovely bicycle, armed with basket, folding walking stick and fully charged-up iPod.
Galicia is covered with pockets of woodland, Sweet Chestnut, with bark twisted like a candy-cane, at least two types of oaks and rather dull pine plantations.
The pines that grow on the coast are the exception, but as we are nowhere near any coasts, the old pine trees are rare, but they can be seen on the skyline.
So what am I doing? I’m indulging myself. I’ve had a great interest in mushrooms for as long as I can remember and when my daughter was a baby, I bought Roger Phillips’ seminal mushroom book and started to study them.
By the time that our children could walk, I was picking, occasionally eating the most obvious specimens and I was in love.
I love woods. Beech trees (not found here in Galicia) are my idea of the perfect tree, with their smooth grey bark, bright green leaves and edible nuts, they are rather like the inside of a huge cathedral. If I were a true and honest believer, I’d know for sure that heaven is full of them. I miss them a little, but a chestnut tree in full leaf is a very close rival.
In April the Chanterelles are the first to appear. They vary in colour, from bright yellow, through to a rich cream and they are delicious and in profusion. They always grow in the same place and I know most of the local places – and I’m not telling anyone.
The chestnut trees haven’t unfurled their leaves, so there’s plenty of light. I occasionally encounter the odd Boletus Edulis, or Luridiformis and as the flies haven’t started up, they are perfect and worm-free.
When I know that I’m going to be an hour or more, my hour of great pleasure with Trevor Pinnock begins with concerto number BWV 1052. This most masculine of the arrangements for harpsichord, totally rocks. It was originally written for violin, but I prefer the harpsichord version.
It’s ‘the’ concerto for me. I own other recordings, by different harpsichordists, but Trevor Pinnock is my man.
Once it has finished, I scroll down to my other favourite, the Concerto in C for Two Harpsichords BWV 1061.
C Major is one of the brightest keys and happiest keys. Unusually for JS Bach, it isn’t an arrangement and again, totally, rocks. Just listen and you’ll understand.
I arrive home, damp footed and elated, with a basket full of delicious fungi. What could be better?
Chanterelles need to be well cooked. They are quite fibrous, with attractive wrinkled gills and you have to sauté them well for at least 8 minutes. Once they are soft, you can add beaten egg for a Spanish revuelto, or cream for a nice sauce. A little lemon juice to finish off, as it tempers their rich flavour.