Mushrooms (Champignons)

Random facts about mushrooms in France, what goes with them and links to healthy mushroom recipes. Looking for popular French sayings? Step on the mushroom is one – all explained.

crate of Parisian chestnut mushrooms at the French market

Mushroom Season

Common button mushrooms are available on sale all year round.  However, the other (wild) varieties are in peak season in Autumn.

Random Facts about Mushrooms in France

  • Parisian mushrooms (Champignons de Paris) are most popular in France and one of the most consumed mushrooms in the world (Agaricus bisporus). Either white or chestnut brown (referred to as rose pink in French), AKA button or cremini mushrooms;
  • France is the 3rd biggest producer of mushrooms in Europe, behind Poland and Holland;
  • Benefits: according to the Harvard School of Public Health, mushrooms are rich in B vitamins (B2, B3, folate, B5), Phosphorus, vitamin D, selenium and potassium;
  • Edible mushrooms: love to forage for mushrooms? French pharmacists can check them for you if you’re not sure of the  poisonous ones. Please don’t just follow online applications to forage – it’s far too risky!;
mushrooms growing in a cave

button mushrooms (champignons de Paris) growing in a quarry near Paris

More facts…

  • Louis XIV’s botanist, La Quintinye cultivated mushrooms at the Potager du Roi in Versailles but it’s not until the 19th Century that the Champignons de Paris are born. As of 1810, they’re cultivated in abandoned quarries or caves around Paris and in the Loire Valley due to their constant temperatures and ideal mushroom growing environment;
  • According to Chef Auguste Escoffier the most popular way to prepare mushrooms are Champignons Sautés (2073 – Guide to Modern Cookery): “Wash and dry them, slice them then coat with salt and pepper and fry them in butter in a frying pan over a fierce fire. Sprinkle them with chopped parsley at the last moment.”
  • What are Duxelles? This is not a type of mushroom but refers to finely chopped mushrooms and onions/shallots slowly sautéed in butter; 
  • Preparation: it’s best to avoid eating raw mushrooms as they contain bacteria so, before cooking, wash them carefully.
  • Storage: mushrooms are best eaten as soon as possible but can keep up to 4-5 days in the fridge.

Popular French Saying with Mushrooms

“Appuyer sur le champignon” (pronounced: apwee-aye soor le chompeeng-nong)
Colloquial French expression (literally translated as ‘to press on the mushroom’) which means to accelerate a vehicule, to go faster, as a champignon is often referred to as the accelerator.

Types of Mushrooms

boxes of wild mushrooms at the market

  • For all the types of mushrooms found in France, see this guide to identify different mushrooms.
  • Major types in France: Common button or champignon de Paris; Shiitake (meaning chestnut mushroom in Japanese); Cepes/Porcini; Girolle; Morel; Chanterelle; Trompette des Maures; Pieds de Mouton (Lobster).

mushroom macarons

What Goes with Mushrooms?

According to Niki Segnit’s ‘The Flavour Thesaurus‘ (2010), all mushrooms have their own particular earthy flavour. However, each contain a flavour-identifying compound called I-octen-3-one.

As a result, other foods with similar compounds go very well with mushrooms: almonds, apricot, bacon, chestnut, garlic, onion, asparagus, pumpkins, aromatic herbs (parsley, tarragon, mint, rosemary, thyme), truffle, plus another ingredient you have to discover in this creamy mushroom soup! Also according to the Harvard Nutrition Source, they create savoury rich flavours called umami (contains glutamate) so great added to stews, pasta or rice dishes and soups without the need for too much salt.

French wine: traditionally in France, mushroom dishes (in particular morels) are often served with a chilled white from the Jura.

More Recipes with Mushrooms

Vegetarian Savoury Recipes

From the market

From the kitchen