Orange Milk Cup

Orange Milk Cup
by Adam Peterson

Orange milk-cup is one of the most piquant of all mushrooms. Up until the middle of this century it was no problem to make for the young spruce woods in autumn, crawl under the bottom branches and gather the glossy orange caps growing all around.

Apollo, the sun god of the Greeks and Romans, regarded as an ideal ion of masculine beauty, was depicted with a laurel wreath on his head. Caesar wore such a wreath on his triumphal marches, and modern-day winners of grand prix races are likewise honoured.

Fresh or pickled mushrooms give a delicious spicy flavour to vegetable dishes, potato soup, goulash and other stewed meats as well as to omelettes. Pickled mushrooms are served as a side-dish together with roast meats and risottos. Orange milk-cup can also be used to make an excellent ketchup. Orange milk-cup generally grows in groups in young, moist spruce woods at higher altitudes. The caps of young mushrooms curve under, spreading as they develop until, in the adult form, they are funnel-shaped. They can be identified by the spicy aroma and bright orange milk that oozes from the wound when a piece is broken off.

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The first course at medieval feasts was often boiled apples and large Provencale figs baked with hay leaves. Bay leaves together with orange peel were also used to scent water for rinsing the fingers at the table. Nowadays they are used chiefly in savory dishes, cream sauces, marinades for meat, pickling vegetables and mushrooms and poaching fish. They may also he used sparingly in soups, stews and pig’s-foot jelly.

Nowadays laurel is grown not only in the Mediterranean countries but also in many other parts of Europe. Two-year-old leaves (1), up to 10 cm (4 in) long and 3 cm (1 in) wide, arc harvested in the autumn and dried in thin layers in shade to preserve their characteristic aroma and flavour.

Common juniper is distributed throughout practically the whole of the northern hemisphere from lowlands high up into the mountains. Propagation is by means of seeds, which germinate only after being exposed to frost. The fruits are harvested by hand. Gloves should be worn when doing this to prevent the prickly needles damaging the hands. The harvested berries are dried in thin layers in a shaded, well-ventilated spot at a temperature not exceeding 35C (95F) for otherwise they lose their potency.

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