Within the past two weeks the Centre of Toxicology at Toulouse has had a flood of inquiries on toadstool poisoning. Eight people were hospitalised at Cahors, four at St. Céré, two at Figeac. Village pharmacists all have a training in toadstool recognition, but few are thoroughly knowledgeable.
The local paper says that the usual culprit was the Satan's mushroom. What they should have eaten were the cepes.
To the left is the Satan.
It has a pale top about the size of a large dinner plate.The stem is fat and mostly red and the flesh is a bright yellow which changes to blue when cut. The pores below the cap are bright red.
The cepe is on the right. They can also be large, though usually a little smaller than the Satan. It is a brown colour. The pores begin white and turn to dirty yellow as they age. The stem is also a pale brown and the flesh is white and hardly changes when it is cut. The stem also has a net like pattern on it. I add that the stem of Satan's toadstool also has a net on it, though in that case the net is whitish yellow on a reddish background.
|A basket of cepes|
One can quite easily make mistakes of identification with other genera of toadstools, but anyone who is not certain should never eat any toadstool.
The cepes fetch large prices at the markets - ten euros a kilo is not exceptional. They are not worth it. Always, I guarantee it, if one shows a French person some toadstools in a wood or field, they ask "Can you eat it?". I reply - "You can eat any toadstool once!"