Regardless of whom you might ask in Poland, literally everyone knows at least a bit about mushroom picking. Whether in the mountains, at Mazurian lakes, in forests nearby big cities or even on the fields and in the bushes one might find some species of edible mushroom which can be picked up and prepared in a dozen of ways. As the mushroom season approaches we wish there was a little bit of rain, and sufficient humidity in the air for the fungi to reach proper growth.
Armed with baskets and knives, full of hopes for fruitful hunting, we set off at dawn. Most people consider the very walk as being an important part of pleasure mushroom picking
may bring. They are not really interested in the crops, what is the most significant is the atmosphere of early morning forest, nature still asleep in its beauty and total tranquility of the place. The reason why mushroom pickers set off so early is also purely logical and has nothing to do with the feeling of untouched woods and being the first one on the spot: it is just because the angle of sun rays is the best at this time of a day for mushroom to be spotted.
In Poland all sorts of mushroom are picked, prepared in different ways e.g. fried, stewed, cooked in sour cream, dried, marinated, and finally eaten. We pick honey mushroom (boletus), the king of all edible fungi, especially prized for its unique aroma and the specific role it plays on our Christmas Eve table. Then it goes bay bolete, great for marinates, yellow and fragile chanterelle (in Polish called kurka for its colour) with slight peppery taste; birch bolete with red or brownish cap and, valued for its uniqueness, saffron milk cap. The latter is to be found mainly in the south of Poland in the mountain regions and it has its admirers who constantly lead arguments over the method of its preparation. You can eat them cooked with sour cream but real cuisine connoisseurs prefer them fried. The only dispute is on whether to fry them on one, or on both sides. May all of us always have only such matters to worry about. :)
Here is the simplest and at the same time the tastiest recipe for fresh fried saffron milk cap:
Take 60 dkg of freshly picked mushroom
Some oil to fry, or butter
Salt and pepper
Wash and then dry off fresh mushroom. To get rid of all dust residues it is best to put them in salted, cold water and then rinse. Salt the mushroom, on the inner side of caps. Then pour some oil, or put butter on a frying pan and place your mushroom cups to fry. They are ready when golden brown and taste the best eaten on their own. Treating fried saffron milk caps as a side dish for some bigger meal is considered to be a culinary profanation. Whether you fry them on one, or on both sides is however totally up to your taste, but do not be surprised if the subject might sometimes reach great importance among devoted mushroom pickers and consumers.
For those who cannot, due to various reasons, get hold of fresh mushroom there is a variety of canned, marinated and dried mushroom on the market to choose from. Nonetheless, no matter how carefully assorted and prepared mushroom one might find in the shops, nothing can replace the feeling of an early morning walk in a forest awaiting us with its treasures hidden beneath trees and bushes.