We all followed our friend into the forest, in a region local to Moscow called Serpkhov about two hours from Moscow. The forest was shaded and beautiful. I never grow tired of seeing Silver birch trees. They are beautiful trees and grow all over Russia. The light dances on the tree bark, lighting the trees up like candles. Our friend Natalia, led us winding through the trees. My kid followed her excitedly carrying a basket that was far to big for him as we followed her instructions on which type of mushrooms to look for and to pick. Natalia told us not to pick them by hand, as she would cut them with her mushroom knife at the base near the ground, so that they would grow back again for future picking by her and by others. Responsible social harvesting. At first, I felt bored and a little nervous of picking wild mushroom but looking for them became exciting, like looking for hidden treasure. This hunting for the correct type of mushroom was a lot of fun and whenever we found the right one it was like finding gold in the forest or when someone lands on your square on a board game or at least it was for me and my kid.
There were many types of mushroom, yellow ones, red ones, purple ones and white ones. Natalia told us to only get the white ones. Whenever we found one, we cried out 'Natalia' and she would reply "coming" and would get her little mushroom knife out and put a mushroom into the wicker basket. I always planned to go mushroom picking in Slovakia but never had the time or the energy. This custom of collecting mushrooms from the forest, seems to be an Eastern European tradition. I don't know if it originates from necessity during Socialist times or if it is a family tradition? It is however a nice tradition and great fun for everyone. We filled two baskets and went home, on our way home we saw a group of young Russians carrying beer bottles and wine which made me depressed as I knew they would probably dump their bottles in the forest to add to all the others that people selfishly leave behind in nature that start fires and harm wildlife. When we arrived back at the cottage, Natalia told us to soak them in water for an hour, let them dry and fry them with onions. They became yellow after soaking and shrank, so if you pick mushrooms, pick lots to make it a worth while meal.
We soaked them for two hours, just to be safe and I cooked them with freshly picked marrow from Natalia's garden, fried tomatoes and four eggs. I mixed the egg with creme fresh and added salt and fresh pepper making two tasty omelets. To be honest dear reader, the mushrooms mostly tasted like any mushroom but had a woody earthy taste that made them less dull than a supermarket mushroom, the taste is not the objective, collecting them and having a fun time is.
I don't recommend ever picking any mushrooms in any forest, in any country, alone or without an expert with you. Mushrooms, can make you very sick or even kill you. Only ever pick them with a person you can trust and who knows their mushrooms very well. Wash them carefully and fry them in an omelet or put them in a tasty soup.
© All Rights Reserved.