Monday, August 9, 2010

Goin' on a Mushroom Hunt

While I posted pictures of a mushroom spotted on a hike, yesterday I had the opportunity to take part in the actual mushroom hunt. Apparently, Czech forests are home to thousands of varieties of mushrooms, many of which are edible. During the war, collecting mushrooms was a way to provide food for a family free of charge. There is an abundant supply, but because the mushrooms were so important, their location was something rather, sacred I guess you could say. Perhaps I'm reading more into the whole event than is completely accurate, but the whole event really did have a bit of a clandestine feel to it somehow.
Generally mushrooms are collected early in the morning, but we went out in the afternoon, perhaps partly due to my frequent sleeping in habit. Hard to rouse myself on these lazy days somehow. We headed out about two, and made our way past the small village of Krasne, a place that lives up to its name which literally means beautiful, to a wooded area. Czech forests are really lovely places. The trees tend to have a lot of openness to them. The ground is covered in evergreen needles, turned brown and dry and making a springy carpet. And where the ground shows through the tree litter it is mossy and green. And in this blanket of greenery and the twisted roots and twigs the mushrooms hide.

Having never done anything like this I really had no idea what to do, so they had to teach me which mushrooms were edible and which you eat once and done, like this cute little guy.

It was pretty tricky to see them. The kind we were looking for grow almost completely hidden under the forest covering. I had to be shown how to recognize them, and then how to carefully free them. It was amazing to see how much bigger they were once they were cleaned out. Here you can see the top of a mushroom in the middle, and then what they look like once removed.

I got fairly decent at finding them after a while. Of course I still had to check to make sure they were the safe kind just to be sure. It was really quite the event.
I thought this kind looked like it belonged more on the ocean floor than in a Czech forest.

Apparently these can be eaten in soup, but we didn't actually pick any of them.
These are like the mushrooms we collected, but are actually ones Mark's dad picked last week.

I'm really thankful to have had the chance to take part in this Czech tradition, even though I'm not exactly a mushroom fan. This week I've had a mushroom cream sauce with dumplings, fried mushrooms, and today it was mushroom soup. Perhaps I'll develop an appreciation for them after all.


Janet said...

We're so proud of you for eating mushrooms, Sarah! :)

Transient Drifter said...

As I said, I'm still not likely to ever be a fan, but I have managed to get them down. The texture is a huge drawback to the mushroom. Generally the flavor of the ones we eat here isn't overly strong, but they jsut feel so nasty!