So, finally it is the season, much anxiously awaited by some local Lithuanians: the mushroom season is here, and the first mushrooms are finally growing in our forests. Let me say it first, there are still about 30% of Lithuanian territory covered by forest. That is quite a lot. And naturally quite a lot of things grow and run (fly) free there, more or less. So it is but natural that there are still those ‘hunters and/or gatherers’ who find both profit and pleasure in the forests, including myself. Not much of the ‘hunter’ variety, I’m afraid, I leave that to my girlfriend, but I am good with gathering: mushrooms, berries, medicinal herbs, and just plain interesting chunks of wood, I am game for it all. Another thing: mushrooms are not those ‘shrooms’ making everyone visit lalaland and wanna stay there, and they are not also those washed-off bleak champignons everyone is so keen on calling proudly ‘mushrooms’ when adding them to dishes in restaurants and such. Duh, they are not real mushrooms at all, they do not even compare.
Lithuania has many species of mushrooms to offer, both edible and not so much, including some of the poisonous variety. We call those ‘fly-death’, if transcribed Lith. [‘musmire] literally. The first to appear, which I am so hype about at the moment, are favorite of mine: the chanterelle. Hunting chanterelle is always a challenge in its own: 1-you never know when you might find one; 2-you never know why it grows there in such strange and seemingly uninviting place, when there are perfectly nice spots around it, but duh-this is the most peculiar little ‘shroom with a mind of its own, apparently; and of course 3-you might walk straight next to it/step on it without even noticing, because they are the Masters of disguise…. moss, both green and grey, and pine needles, and birch leaves, and little bushes of wild berries cover and hide them better than a camouflaged operative in a forest… so searching for those smooth operators is always a challenge. But this is the challenge I love. My family ‘legend’ tells I found my first chanterelle when I was just one year old. Of course, my grandma has probably placed me down on soft moss just next to it, and bright yellow thing is easy to spot there, and it is attractive for a kid. But hey, who am I to argue with my mushroom-gatherer-legacy trailing down for over 30 years… :))) And freshly cooked chanterelle with fried onions, sour creme and fresh boiled potatoes, and dill – it is a dish to die for….
Here they are, naughty creatures, for your perusal. And there are even more on OW Flickr, so don’t forget to check them also.