Corsica’s rich and varied vegetation.
Corsica has a rich and varied vegetation. The maquis or ‘macchia’ is the name given to the scrubland that covers the hills. Amongst the plants that are found in the maquis, 78 of them are endemic.
You can find in abundance, tree heather, the strawberry tree and myrtle.
Tree heather, in Corsican, is called ‘Scoppa.’ It can be found anywhere from sea level up to an altitude of 1300m. There are over 600 different types of heather, four of which are in Corsica. The bushes can grow up to 6 metres high, they have small bell like flowers that hang in clusters and are either pink, or white.
L’Arbousier, or the strawberry tree likes sunny hillsides that are well drained. The flowers hang in small white clusters of bells, and the fruits are round plump berries that range in colour from yellow, they mature through to pink and red as they ripen. You can eat the fruit raw but it does not have much taste. It can also be used to make jams and is used to flavour one of the local beers ‘Torra Blonde.’
Myrthe, or myrtle is very symbolic in Greek mythology, it is associated with Aphrodite and Venus, it symbolises beauty, youth and chastity. Its name means ‘perfume.’
Parasol Mushrooms,or Coulemelle a seasonal delightfor late November. I was lucky enough to collect a hearty quantity of Parasol mushrooms recently. The rich fertile soil, heavy rainfall, followed by some strong Mediterranean sunshine gave the perfect conditions for them to flourish. They fruit in Summer and Autumn, the cap is dark grey-brown and there is a delicate snakeskin pattern on a very tall stem.
This mushroom is great for cooking, it is very flavoursome and has a taste reminiscent of ceps. The large cup cap is ideal for grilling, or for roasting.
Stuffed Parasol Caps
- 30G smoked ham, thickly sliced
- 4 Tbsp garden peas, cooked
- 4 parasol caps, 5cm in diameter
FOR THE BECHAMEL SAUCE
- 15G unsalted butter
- 15G flour
- 125ML full fat milk
- Grated nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbp grated gruyere
- 2Tbsp grated parmesan