Wednesday, September 8, 2010
A favorite Czech pastime...mushroom picking
We Czechs love to grab our straw basket (sometimes a plastic bag), rise with the sun, and head on out into the forest to search for those fleshy fungi otherwise known as "mushrooms".
As I got a little older, I realized that although I grew up mushroom picking with my grandfather and father, I still was no pro at this "sport". Clearly, not all mushrooms are the same. They look different. But even those that look similar can be complete opposites (i.e., of the poisonous variety). Now I can buy a book and compare my findings to the glossy pages, but I'd much rather trust those that have been doing this for generations. I mean, this is our national pastime (and one of my favorites!) and 7 out of 10 Czechs will be out there in our forests searching for mushrooms between the months of July and November (the best picking is a day or so after a nice rainfall). So if you're a novice, best to avoid the embarrassment of running into a seasoned mushroom-picker in the forest with your basket full of inedible finds by buying a bushel of hand-picked mushrooms from a local Czech. If you're lucky enough, they'll even have a few that they pickled to sell you. Mmm... Delicious!
My favorite are pickled mushrooms but I think we seriously have over 100 recipes for mushrooms...some of my favorites are, besides the picked ones, of course:
Dried mushrooms that are later used in a sauce over beef and/or dumplings
Mushroom & egg scramble