I grabbed the chopping board from the drying rack and lay it down next to the stove. The kitchen was untidy, but not messy. Next to the sink, in the corner, sat my 'shroom groom. I put it next to the chopping board. Fiddling with the light switch on the cooker paid off and suddenly there was illumination. The white paper bag bulged and the odd blade of grass and speck of dirt fell from it as I placed it carefully on the chopping board. Slowly tearing it along the seam revealed mushrooms of various shapes and sizes, pouring their earthy scent out into the kitchen. The ceps (or porcini or penny buns) were huge, their stalks caked in moss and soil, pine needles and blades of grass. The chanterelles were simply dirty and fragile, tearing along their ridges, their trumpets splitting.
On the other side of the cooker, From Our Own Correspondent played from the speakers of my laptop. Perfectly enunciated missives from every corner of the globe; from small tales about ordinary folks to interviews with the great and the good, a world in constant motion and reported as such. I took the small pairing knife from the block as one correspondent chatted about family farming in Sierra Leone. The largest cep had the most damage, so I carved the divets out from the cap and plucked the various bit of foliage that had become stuck. Cep caps have a pleasing, peculiar stickiness. Displaced islanders living in Mauritius spoke of how they yearned to return home and I whittled the soiled base of the stalks, revealed their pure white cores, then placed the peeled detritus into a pile next to the board.
It smelled of autumn and the forest. Muslims in New York expressed their views on the Ground Zero mosque while I took the 'shroom groom and brushed any remaining soil and woodland remnant from the fungi. I took more time than usual. A young boy in Africa was reunited with his family after five years on his own, living rough. His father didn't want him back. I chopped the cleaned mushrooms into big chunks and put them in a large bowl. Three onions from a string, and as I sliced them, their sharp, oddly sweet scent joined with the heady nose of the ceps and chanterelles. The boy's mother and grandmother were overjoyed to see him.
As the world continued in my ears I prepared the stock and started frying off the onions and mushrooms. The voices from abroad spoke over the sizzle of a frying pan. I stood in my kitchen, stirring my dinner, in my own world, to the sound of everyone else's.