C is for Calocybe Gambosa
Calocybe Gambosa* or St George's Mushroom (so named because it usually pops up around the middle of April - if you're lucky).
Culinary Aspects? It is the 'first' seasonal mushroom of the year (many others will grow throughout the winter, especially if it is mild) and it is similar to a blewit despite being a different genus entirely. The 'relation' is they taste very similar - and you could argue that most mushrooms taste of mushrooms and look quite alike in shape, texture and dissection. But it is the taste that separates this from most other mushrooms - it isn't that nice; it's a very mealy flavour and retains that taste even when dried. That said, just because I don't like them means nothing; the other spring mushroom, which we will get too, a morel is, in my humble opinion, nothing to write home about either, but people pay huge amounts of money for them. For mushroom aficionados it is always nice to find these (and morels) because apart from the winter varieties there isn't much to get excited about after the first frosts.
Smells very mealy - which was what first put me off of it. Texture is very similar to shop bought mushrooms.
Where have I found it? Irchester Country Park not far from the Travellers' site on the chalky scrub land - near the electricity pylon - the reason I'm going into so much detail is I don't care if you find them and also you can't go wrong in April/May; there will be nothing else like it growing in the park (or any park for that matter).
Interesting 'Facts': Well, I've kind of given it and that's it is the earliest (seasonal) edible mushroom (pleurotis - or oyster mushrooms - season is from November to March, usually). Depending on how warm the spring has been it will appear on or around the 21st April. I have seen them in April, but usually they pop up and hang around for most of May, by the end of the season there is the first signs of other mushrooms, especially if it has been a poor spring. In 2010, I saw St George's at the start of May over Bradlaugh Fields, but I also found Wood mushrooms - a broad leaf field mushroom variant - at the start of June because the weather was so cool and wet.
Wiki Mushroom Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calocybe_gambosa
Posted by Phil Hall