Updated: Feb 2, 2019
In Poland, the tradition of forest mushroom picking is very long. Naturally, there are other stores found in nature like wild berries, hazelnuts and more, but let me concentrate on wild forest mushrooms. Dried or marinated mushrooms must be found in the pantry of every self-respecting housewife.
The traditional Polish Christmas Eve supper is unthinkable without these gifts of forest on the table.
The concept of mushroom picking is not only about consuming them but a great opportunity to spend some time in the nature.
Most Poles feel the urge to visit the woods at least once a year. It is a fantastic way to spend a day especially for the overworked and stressed. Comes end of summer or early autumn, you get up at 5 or 6 in the morning anda-hunting we will go…
The search for the largest boletus, the King of Mushrooms or bay bolete begins. The Mushroom Carnival is here. Certainly, you can buy them from local pickers at the side of the road or at the markets, but it is never the same.
During the era of PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF POLAND (simply – communist times) the famous mushroom picking excursions organized by workplace were fun. You had to get up early, the rented bus took "the party" to the woods…some men usually brought their spirits and never left the bus because they started too early, some got lost but most came back home with wicker baskets full of goods.
Mushroom picking is one of the few aspects of life when the tradition of older generation is reviving. Knowledge of our grandparents is useless for computer and smartphone kids, but the revival of ancestor’s wisdom, which in traditional cultures is very strong, is now taking place. Parents or grandparents take their young to the forest and show them where to look, how to look and what is most important, teach them which species are deadly poisonous.
As an angler from the angler should be within a specified distance, so do mushroom pickers. Some do not share the secrets. Some will guard their territory and start to get excited when someone enters their paths.
This Polish, Slavic, tradition is slightly incomprehensible for foreigners. Travelling through Europe, especially in Scandinavia, and walking through the forest, I was stunned at the amount of mushrooms found there (especially mushrooms-Kings in the mushroom aroma). So much natural and tasty goods is wasting…
Fungus have, apart from the power of vitamins and healthy microelements for the body, and it is tempting to say - an Alchemic power!
It was in the early 90’s, my Polish friend who went to Sweden on a work placemen, carried in his luggage a jar of pickled mushrooms. He was stopped at the airport in Goteborg, the customs officer was very suspicious when he found it and it took the poor soul a long time to explain it was not a mind altering species but a present from his loving Grandmother, so he could take a “bit of Poland” for his lengthy stay abroad.
One should be very cautious with mushrooms not only at the border crossing.
Not all are edible, and some are poisonous.
Books with fantastic photos of fungi, tips and instructions when and where to find them are very popular in Poland, and you will get them in every bookshop or newspaper stand.
Commonly found like mushrooms after the rain, as a Polish saying goes.
I recommend this site:
Unfortunately, they are all in Polish, but what is Google translator for ;-)
Learn more about tours in Poland.