In the markets of the south I look for Camargue rice. These days there are more stalls selling grains, pulses and spices and a variety of rice, and the local Camargue rice is now produced in considerable quantities. Yet Waverley Root, writing in 1958, saw rice-growing as an interim stage in the process of turning the wild Camargue into conventional high-yielding agricultural land. Mercifully this has not come to pass; the hectares under rice have increased, but large tracts of the Camargue remain undisturbed as a protected wildlife reserve with a unique sense of space and peace.
Fresh or tinned wild mushrooms are best sliced and cooked in extra butter. Dried mushrooms should be covered with warm water and left to soften while the rice cooks.
Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan and cook the onion and the garlic over moderate heat until soft. Stir in the rice and when translucent add the wine. Cook, stirring, until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add stock, a ladleful at a time, always waiting until the rice has absorbed it all before adding more. Different types of rice vary in how much liquid they will absorb.
When the rice is almost cooked add the wild mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until the rice has lost any hardness in the centre of the grain.
© 1987 Geraldene Holt. All rights reserved.