Mushroom pickers everywhere! / Houbari jsou vsude!Czechs and Slovaks love to go mushroom picking | Czechmatediary
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Mushroom pickers everywhere! / Houbari jsou vsude!

hribek (czech mushroom) flick imageIf you don’t like to go mushroom picking you are simply not Czech. As most of us have  experienced, summer in the Czech Republic (or Slovakia) can be very rainy; sometimes it rains for weeks! It is unfortunate for  tourists but for mushroom pickers it is a time for celebration. As the forest soil sucks in the moisture, various mushroom types  emerge but you have to have a trained vision to see them as they are really good in camouflaging themselves. When I was about 5 years old I went mushroom picking with my neighbor’s family. Since I was the youngest one in the pack I was sent on the most obvious and boring trails. Discouraged, with my basket being completely empty compared to the others, I slowly lingered on my assigned trail. All of a sudden I see this suspiciously big pile of leaves. I stop, get some of those leaves out of the way and there it was! The biggest hribek (boletus) I have ever seen! It was almost as big as an umbrella (well, OK I am exaggerating here a little)! I caught the envious looks of my fellow pickers and proudly put my ‘umbrella’ into the basket. My mom then made the best ‘smazenice‘ in the world and dried the rest of the mushroom for later.

Mochomurka flickr imageNow that was the good mushroom story; I also have a bad one: when I was about a year old, crawling around our cottage, I spotted a mochomurka (very poisonous mushroom; see the 2nd picture above). I must have thought it was a strawberry because I took a big old bite out of it. My parents said when they found me they had seen the bit off mochomurka and me saying the word  “jahu” – short for ‘jahudka” – meaning ‘strawberry’. And from then on it was just a big drama. They raced into the emergency room with me and the doctors had to pump out my poor stomach. Up to this day, no one really knows if I have eaten that thing for sure or not..

Mushrooms are so popular in our country that even the Czech expat community in Cedar Rapids holds an annual mushroom festival called Houby Days. This year’s Mushroom Days celebration, which was held couple of days ago, attracted 400 people. What is this celebration about? Do people dress up like mushrooms and dance around the fire? No, it is a little less exciting than that. It is pretty much a food tasting event, with over 30 Czech and Slovak dishes to be sampled. One can taste anything from mushroom treats, kolaches, and goulash, to sourkraut, dumplings and Svickova. And it is comforting to know that the proceeds go to the Czechoslovak Museum in Cedar Rapids which was completely flooded not so long ago.

CZ: Jestlize neradi chodite na houby, tak zkratka nejste Cesi. Jak je znamo, leto v Cechach (nebo i na Slovensku) je nekdy pekne destive; nekdy prsi i nekolik tydnu! Tato situace je velmi nemila pro nase drahe turisty, ale co se tyce houbaru, ti si doma mnou rucicky. Jak lesy nasavaji vlhkost z destu, ze zeme se zacinaji vynorovat prapodivne houbove tvary; jelikoz ale velmi sikovne splyvaji s prostredim, musite na ne mit to prave houbarske oko! Kdyz mi bylo asi tak pet let, sla jsem na houbarsky vylet s nasimi sousedy. A protoze jsem byla ta nejmladsi z tlupy, poslali me na ty nejnudnjesi a nejvyslapanejsi trasy – tedy alespon si to tak mysleli (haha). Tak si tak znudene temi cestickami vyslapuji, kosik naprosto prazdny, kdyz najednou pred sebou vidim podezrely kopecek listu. Par listu jsem odhrnula a co jsem nenasla – nejvetsi hribek na svete!! Byl to opravdu takovy hribkovy destnik. Pred zavistivymi pohledy pritomnych houbaru jsem si polozila toto paraple do kosiku a pysne jsem si pochodovala dal. Mamka nam pak udelala tu nejlepsi smazenici na svete a zbytek houby se ususilo na pozdeji.

Toto byla vesela houbarska povidka; mam ale take nevesely houbarsky pribeh. Kdyz mi byl asi tak jeden rok, batolila jsem se kolem nasi chaty, az jsem narazila na krasne cervenou ‘jahudku’. Tedy alespon ja jsem si myslela, ze to byla jahudka. Ve skutecnosti to byla jedovata mochomurka a ja si z ni kousek ukousla. Celou jsem ji snist nestihla, protoze me nasli nasi a hned jsme vsichni sprintovali na ambulanci. Tam mi pak vypumpovali zaludek a prezila jsem to. Ono se totiz do dnes nevi, jestli jsem ji opravdu snedla. Rodice videli tu nakouslou mochomurku a me, jak rikam ‘jahu’, tak me vzali do nemocnice jen tak pro jistotu.

Houby jsou v Cechach a na Slovensku tak popularni, ze samotna ceskoslovenska komunita v Cedar Rapids (USA) porada kazdorocne tzv. Houby Days festival. Lide se tam oblecou do houbovych kostymu a tancuji v lese kolem taboraku…ne, kecam, je to jednoduse ochutnavaci party, kde si navstevnici mohou vybrat z nekolika tradicnich ceskych chodu jako je Svyckova, gulas, vepro, knedlo, zelo, kolace  a samozrejme take ruzne houbove pochoutky. Tento rok na slavnost prislo kolem 400 lidi a vsechen profit byl venovan Ceskoslovenskemu museu v Cedar Rapids, ktere bylo nedavno naprosto zniceno v mistnich zaplavach.

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5 comments… add one
  • Sarka May 27, 2009, 4:47 pm

    I still go mushroom picking every time I go back in the summer; it brings me back to childhood 🙂

    I can’t believe you ate, Mochomurka! That must have been scary for your parents

  • Veronika May 29, 2009, 11:48 pm

    I used to hate mushroom picking coz I’d never find any good mushrooms.

  • Tanja May 30, 2009, 11:54 am

    I admit, for a kid it was a bit of a boring experience but you know how it is…when you get older you think about those times through pink glasses 🙂

    I just loved the smell of the woods!…and of course, when I found an actual mushroom 😉

  • pavla June 5, 2009, 1:37 pm

    I don’t think it was boring.
    I loved it, we always had a contest who will find the most mashrooms and who’s will be the biggest.
    I have so many great memories picking a mashrooms with my gandpa.
    Loved the early mornings in the woods, smell of woods and mashrooms afer the rain 🙂

  • Tanja June 5, 2009, 4:32 pm

    Hmmm…I can just smell the moist pine cones and fresh mushrooms! I live in California so I don’t get to smell this too often 🙁

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