Autumn is definitely not my favorite part of the year; constant rains, leaves falling, long sleeves after six months of hot sunny days… I’m not even sure I like it’s colors.
But one thing I do like are the mushrooms! Boletus, Parasol mushrooms, Chanterelles, Caesar’s mushrooms, Honey Fungus… our woods are full of them, you just have to know where to look. In Istria the best place to start are sunny and humid woods of spruce and oak trees. They grow most at the edge of the forest, so don’t go too deep into the woods.
You have to be extremely careful ’cause picking mushrooms isn’t so easy. Some poisonous ones are very similar to the ones you can eat so even an experienced picker can be easily mistaken. Never try to recognize them by swallowing or tasting one peace, that’s a really bad idea. And a really dangerous one.
I learned a lot about picking mushrooms from my father who is an expert in that area. After we come back from the woods with basket full of ‘prey’, he often takes his old book from Romano Božac and checks new sorts or studies the ones he already knows. Professor Božac is a well known scientist and agronomist, the greatest authority in the field of mushrooming in Croatia. So if you are thinking about learning a little bit more about this wood treasure, you might consider getting one of his encyclopaedias or manuals.
Everyone says it’s better to know five sorts well than fifty of them superficially. If you have doubts always check with someone you know and trust or with Mushroom Picker Association, they are available in this time of the year.
Never wash the mushrooms, just scrape them with a knife, clean them and scrub with paper towel and brush.
Mix them with scramble eggs, make a good risotto, cook a creamy soup or serve them fried with a little bit of olive oil, garlic and parsley.
Mmmm… maybe I like Autumn a little bit more than I thought! 😋