Les Champignons de Babou


The recipe today comes from the elegant and very interesting Babou, my coffee drinking “copine”.  Born in France, Babou’s father moved the family to Ivory Coast in the 50s where she spent most of her life.  Her father Raphael Matta, a wildlife conservationist ahead of his time, gave up a successful career in Paris in order to devote his life to the preservation of endangered animals, becoming the warden of Ivory Coast’s Bouna Reserve. Unfortunately, his commendable commitment was brought to an ignoble and tragic end when, stumbling upon a sacred manhood ceremony, the outraged participants incapacitated him with poison arrows and then finished him off with a primitive axe.  Boy Howdy!

Babou's Family 2

Photo of Raphael Matta, Babou (Martine) and her brother.

The book is called “Le Crepuscule des Hommes”, written by journalist Jacques Guillaume. I’m reading it now.


Anyway, the mushrooms.  I always think that the French must all have an innately suspicious nature; always insisting on having the head to make sure it was a rabbit or inordinately satisfied with buying a chicken that includes feet, head and a few feathers, just to be sure. It’s the same with some vegetables; always a little dirt attached to the item so that you know that it was grown, in the ground, and had to be picked.  People please!  The dirt accumulating in my kitchen sink pipes is going to be a problem one day!


The delicious idea is to pickle the mushrooms whole by boiling them with herbs, spices and cider vinegar.  After the mushrooms are cooked, you load them into jars and fill the spaces with olive oil.  They will be ready in 2-3 days.  Babou’s husband, Nico, suggests eating them as a side with chicken or veal.  If you just eat them plain, he won’t know 😀


I went outside to my neglected, moss ravaged garden to try some outdoor shots.  I think I wasn’t listening to Roger when he explained about taking pictures of dark objects in glass jars.  It’s either the lab specimen look or annoying glare.  Oh well.


Babou’s Pickled Mushrooms

3 lbs mushrooms, washed and stem trimmed

1 1/3 cup cider vinegar

1 cup water

4 sprigs thyme

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs rosemary

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 tsp red or black peppercorns

1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds

5 whole cloves

1/2-1 tsp salt

Bring the vinegar, water, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, garlic, peppercorns, coriander, cloves and salt to a boil.  Add the mushrooms and boil aggressively until all the liquid has evaporated.

Cool the mushrooms, then place in jars, filling in the spaces with olive oil.  Refrigerate for 2 or 3 days.

About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
This entry was posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Hors d'oeuvres, Recipes, side dish, Vegetables and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Les Champignons de Babou

  1. AnotherDish says:

    Beautiful shots, and the mushrooms look delicious!

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Wow, that must have been an exciting life – right up to the end!
    I want the heads on my animals – I’ve got a fantastic pasta recipe for 6 rabbit heads and deep fried rabbit head is a delicious Sichuan delicacy. Chicken feet are my favourite dim sum too.
    You might get more illumination in your jar if you put the light source behind it, but as Roger will tell you it’s not the easiest thing to photograph, even in a studio 😉

  3. Fabulous. The small additions that brighten up an ordinary meal. One thing the french are so good at. MORE of these tidbits Rose. Tx!!!

  4. I like this, very much.

  5. Oh my, Rosemary, those sound flavourful.

  6. Oh I need to try these! I don’t normally pickle in the winter that must change.

    • When you think of it, winter is the ideal time for pickling because it’s cold and refrigeration can be optional. That is, if you live in a cold place 🙂

  7. What an amazing story and life. What a sad end. Love the mushrooms – my mum makes something very similar as part of a big Italian antipasto – now I need to make some!

  8. Looks delicious, I will be trying this soon! I attempted pickled watermelon rinds before, mushrooms are next on my list!

  9. Omg! That is truly a terrible end! I mean, memorable, but what a awful way to go!

    And to juxtapose that with these beautifully pickled champignons? I was intrigued, shocked, and hungry all in the same post 😉 Thank you, Rosemary 🙂

  10. Thierry Ragobert says:

    Dear cookinginsens, I’m a french journalist concerning by the reserve of Bouna in 1959. Since a long time, I’m search for the contact of Martine M (Babou). Could it be possible to have is contact please ? Could we find a way to send you me adress and contact ? It’s very important to me and also very serious and professional. Thanks a lot to consider this mail.

  11. Thierry Ragobert says:

    Thanks a lot … It could be a miracle ! … Thanks to mushrooms ! unbelievable !!

    • Cool. She’s a nice lady and I think would be happy to talk to you. When I have her okay, I will contact you again through your e-mail address to exchange contact information.

  12. Thierry Ragobert says:

    You’re wonderful ! Thanks a lot !!

Leave a Reply