November 11, 2012

Mushroom hunting is a sport.

"Mushroom hunting is probably Lithuania’s second most popular sport, after basketball."

Many Eastern European countries share a cultural affinity for mushroom picking. Mushroom recipes ripple through Lithuanian cuisine; Lithuanians even bake cookies that look like mushrooms. (There's a recipe in this book.)

I've always been nervous about eating wild mushrooms. I make an exception for morels because it's easy to identify them. Otherwise, I stay away. For example, Danutė—the wife of Mr. Irene's great uncle, Uncle D—used to harvest wild mushrooms in Indiana and Michigan. She then pickled and canned them. Everyone got several Mason jars—filled with the slimy preserving liquid and rubbery mushrooms—each time they visited her. I never tasted them: not even from the jars Danutė gave us on our wedding day. Or from the jars family found squirreled away in Danutė's basement after Danutė died.

I went mushroom picking one time, and I then was accompanying natives who'd been differentiating mushrooms for nearly a generation.

Choosing the wrong mushroom can be deadly.

Door County, Wisconsin, Spring 1978. Get some safety training before you go hunting.

No comments: