If you go out in the woods today you’re likely to find a lot of people there with you. And if you’re lucky you’ll find mushrooms, lots of them.
Starting in July and peaking in September, foraging for mushrooms in the Baltic countries is very, very popular and, this year at least, very rewarding. As soon as you approach any wooded area, regardless of how near or far you are from the town or city, the sides of the roads are dotted with parked cars and for each car you see there may be two or three people in the forest, mushroom picking.
The most popular type are chanterelles and boletus, or ceps. And right now you can find them everywhere; in the forest, in the buckets and bags of the people collecting them, in markets and on menus. It seems as though every restaurant has a wild mushroom special, pan fried in cream sauce for example, or wild mushroom soup.
If you do travel to the Baltics during mushroom season and you have the opportunity to go picking, how can you tell which are the edible mushrooms and which are the poisonous ones? The Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians must really know their stuff because they joke about it.
“Every type of mushroom is edible”, they say, “at least once.”