I love Sweden. Have I mentioned that?
I am sure I must have, and for many reasons, but today I mention it because of its clean environment, gorgeous untouched forest patches scattered throughout the capital city, and the fact that when you find one of these beauties not 50 meters from a bus stop, it’s quite safe to just pick it up, carry it home, and eat it. Oh… did I mention? I found it right next to a bus stop, in a little patch of pines on the way to T’s mother’s birthday party.
… and so we arrived at the party, me in my stiletto heels, carrying brightly-wrapped presents, and a mushroom proudly held in my hand like a bouquet of flowers. (Some people think I am a little strange, but thankfully T and his parents just think I am adorable and funny when I do things like that. Lucky me!)
There are many attractive fungi out there, true, but most of the edible ones won’t win any prizes for sheer beauty – and the Red Pine Mushroom (Lactarius deliciosus) is one that certainly does. And not only is it orange and pretty, it’s also outright amazingly delicious. I mean… Lactarius deliciosus – how often does the Latin name spell it out this much?! This little thing is right up there in the taste department with porcini and chanterelles in my opinion (and in that of many others), so if you are lucky enough to find it – and identify it, which is very very important with mushrooms! – then by all means, do pick and eat it. Preferably fried in good extra-virgin olive oil and a bit of garlic.
Blissfully, in the case of Red Pine Mushroom, identification is easy, as there is really nothing around that looks very much like it. First – it’s orange! Or salmon-pink if you like. Not many mushrooms look like it. Second, see the bright spotting on the stalk? Yes, those are specific too! And if you cut it, it should bleed a little, in a bright-orange color like so. Third, they are cone-shaped, with a depression in the middle and upraised sides. Fourth, look for the target!
Fifth, the pretty and yummy thing also has a rather unmistakable last clue – in bruised spots, it will turn dark swamp-pistachio green, like this:
… so, obviously, realising that the Red Pine shroom season has arrived, today I am arming myself with a pair of trainers (and those who know me know there is only a few things in my life which get me off heels… mushroom hunting being one of those few), a plastic bucket and a tiny knife, and I am going to march myself out into the nearest pine forest patch and hunt for these. Lucky for me the nearest patch is right outside the front door – and the next large one is ten minutes’ walk away!
Wish me luck! (And none to the mushrooms!)
Now, a word of general mushroomy warning – if you are unsure of identification, do not eat a wild-picked mushroom. Or invest in a good mushroom-identification book. Some mushrooms can be incredibly toxic, and while this specific mushroom species is both, safe and delicious, I would by no means wish my readers to mis-identify something, eat it and do themselves harm.