Last Saturday, I set off with 2 friends by bicycle on a mushroom-picking adventure.
As a native Stockholmer, Joakim was the guide for Lauren and I, both American, who had no experience of mushrooms other than eating them. Here in Sweden, mushroom picking is an art, and people are often quite protective of their ‘mushroom spots.’ Luckily, Joakim was willing to share the intricacies of mushroom picking with us, of which there are many.
After a 30+ minute bike ride, mostly uphill, we found ourselves in a forest in the middle of Nacka (east of central Stockholm) near Sandasjön, or Sand Lake. The forest was incredibly beautiful – the perfect setting for a fairy tale – with sunshine filtering through leafy, moss-covered trees and a carpet of bright green ferns on the ground.
We first came upon a fresh spring, where we stocked up on water and found our first canterelle mushrooms – quite a delicacy. They were orange-brownish, and teeny tiny, nestled in damp spots beside rocks or between roots of trees. Prepared with knives, brushes, and picture books, we continued through the forest and along the way, tried to gain some idea of the mushrooms which were edible and the ones which were deadly.
Our picnic lunch on a secluded dock re-energized us halfway through, after which we did our best to keep our “mushroom eyes” sharp. The treasure hunt peaked when I spotted a patch of canterelles which seemed to continue on and on. We gathered everything in site, and then headed back to our bikes.
Bags were slightly heavier on the downhill bike ride back to town, where we divvied up our booty. At home, I laid out my share on newspaper to dry only to discover after a couple days, most of them were full of worms. [I won’t post the video Nik made of these worms] I’m not sure where I went wrong, but these creatures were most unwelcome in our apartment, and I promptly disposed of all but the canterelles, which I managed to salvage sans worms. However, in drying, the canterelles had shrunk to what amounted to only about 3 bites. Unfortunately, these 3 bites were burned and ended up tasting like fried crunchiness.
Never before have I made such a great effort for so little food – and never have I had more fun in doing so. I now am coming to understand the deep complexities of mushrooms, and will never again take for granted any food that contains this fungi – just as soon as I can manage to eat them again!