Mushroom purée

Good and bad mushrooms. 

Poisoning cases due to the consumption of toadstools and other toxic mushrooms were unfortunately frequent in occurrence. A list of “good mushrooms” included the button mushroom (agaricus bisporus), the ‘common’ mushroom (agaricus campestris, or field mushrooms), Caesar’s Mushroom (amanita caesarea), St George’s mushroom (Calocybe gambosa), the chanterelle mushroom, porcini and morels.

Mushrooms were widely available from market stands or from individual street sellers, often down-and-outs or beggars who got by on the harvesting of these fungi and whose priority in collecting their produce was more often than not quantity over quality.

Such were the dangers incurred from purchasing from these vendors that the authorities were obliged to introduce measures to combat the trade, as can be seen in this order handed out by the police prefect for the Seine (Paris, Saint-Cloud, Sèvres and Meudon) as part of the imperial decree dated 5 July, 1808, which banned begging on imperial territory:

“Considering that it is necessary to take measures to avoid such accidents brought about through the usage of mushrooms of an inferior quality;

It is thus ordained:
– the Marché à la Poirée [Paris’ vegetable market located near the Fontaine des Innocents, today near the Forum des Halles] will continue to be affected to the wholesale of mushrooms. All mushrooms intended for the provision of the city of Paris must be brought to the Marché aux Poirées.
– it is forbidden to sell, peddle or proclaim the sale of mushrooms on the public thoroughfare.
1 May, 1809, signed: Dubois.”


– 500g button mushrooms
– 50g shelled walnuts
– 1 shallot
– 30cl double cream
– butter
– salt, pepper

Period Recipe

Take the mushrooms, wash and peel them; chop them as finely as possible; put them in a deep saucepan, with a knob of butter and the juice of a lemon; stir until the butter has turned to oil; add a pinch of flour, a cuillerée à pot [a ladle full] of stock, salt and pepper; reduce until your purée is sufficiently thickened and serve.[Extract from La cuisinière de la campagne et de la ville ou La Nouvelle cuisine économique, Paris, Audot, 1818, p. 27]

Bon appetit

Mushroom purée
1. Melt a large knob of butter, and brown the chopped shallot 2. Add the washed and finely sliced mushrooms.
3. Once lightly browned, blend the entirety.
4. Add the cream and mix well.
5. Sprinkle with shelled walnuts.

This purée goes well with roast veal.

Type of Recipe