'Shrooming around Barcelona

-- Rossinyolics at the Solstice --


Sunday, All Saints in Barcelona...we're off to look for wild mushrooms...these lovely yellow flower-like beauties called camagrocs ("yellow legs" in Catalan), or rossinyol de pi (pine rossinyols) or rossinyolics (diminutive rossinyols, obviously)...in a north-facing moist and shady hillside forest I know out by the Massif de Montserrat, cradle of the Catalonian zeitgeist, volkgeist, etceterageist...home of La Moreneta, Catalonia's most cherished "black virgin" of Montserrat.

So, you end up (if you manage to find some) with these lovely yellow-shanked, brown-topped flowers that forever smell of forest floor, whether dried or fresh or cooked in omelettes, tortillas, stews or ragouts...with overtones of Wagnerian nationalistic mysticism... (...his opera Parsifal was set on Montserrat).

Leaving town we stopped at the 14th-century Pedralbes Monastery's triple-tiered cloister to look at a few paintings: Canaletto, Tintoretto, Velázquez, Zurbarán...before continuing another thirty minutes west past Montserrat's spiky organ-like flutes to our little glade, plunging into the forest for a few hours of crawling through and under second and third growth brush in hot pursuit of rossinyolics...

We found two or three kilos, plenty for a few great tortillas and then some...enough to turn the house into an olfactory rain forest for a while. Grandson Jackson took turns on mummy and daddy's chest while three-year-old Henry crawled effortlessly through the undergrowth filling his custom football-sized basket with yellow flowers...It seemed impossible...one year ago there was no Jackson at all and Henry was doing a little walking, no real hunting...more inclined to do face plants into the forest floor...

Thyme, rosemary and rossinyolics packed into the van, we streaked east to the beach at Castelldefels just south of Barcelona for a three mile sunset walk down the strand to a little place that serves calçots, spring onions eaten with romescu sauce (olive oil, red peppers, garlic, almonds)...restraining ourselves short of paella or lambchops with allioli only in order to remain ravenous enough to pay full homage to our own huntings and gatherings.

The sun sank hugely and incandescently -- you expected to hear the hissssss -- into the Mediterranean at around six...yes, the Mediterranean...which it does from about the third week of October until mid-February thanks to the Catalonian coastline's westward slant and the winter sun's southerly route...and by seven we were home showering and throwing clothes into the washing machine before turning to our much anticipated dinner of tortilla de rossinyolics...(cook onions and garlic until brown, add rossinyolics and cook until all moisture has been released and evaporated, beat eight eggs in separate bowl, mix and pour back into pan, cook until almost firm, flip, serve, inhale...).

A good 1982 Rioja reserva from the Lopez Heredia vineyards, a lovely ruby-orange color and oaky taste...perfect with the rossinyolic omelette...and wonderful sleeping potion.