Ruth had only heard about Mushroom Matt (botanist Matthew Rooney) on the Friday but managed to arrange a walk with him on the Monday. He had agreed to meet us at the car park in Dedham at 2 o'clock and even though we didn't know what he looked like we soon found him, and on time.
Matt is known for his foraging workshops with Carl Shillingford around Essex and Suffolk, all of which were fully booked, so we were very happy he'd agreed to meet us on Bank Holiday Monday between his busy schedule as a full time mushroom farmer and forager. Even though we both had some knowledge and experience of foraging, in various locations, we were looking forward to sharing someone else's in a new place.
We hadn't even left the car park and Matt had already seen a few things we could eat. But soon we were on our way and walked west from Dedham along the Suffolk side of the river until we hit the A12, which took about an hour. It takes a lifetime to really get to know somewhere and Matt was certainly tuned in to his environment and he spotted many things along the way. Not only did we pick, smell and eat, but he knew where and when to find certain plants, which parts to eat, how to prepare them and how they could be used, ie as a garnish, as salad leaves, in soups and even as a chicken substitute. Matt also told us things we definitely shouldn't eat, about hallucinogenic plants and about the complex life-cycle of a fluke and what it will do to your liver should you ingest it.