For my beloved Brother who introduced me to the art of cooking, who taught me how to taste and truly love food. Without him I'd never be able to be where I am today.

September 18, 2011

I Found Gold

A scary truth that very often consumes my thoughts while grocery shopping in huge sterile supermarkets is that many people today, especially kids hardly recognize real fruits, real vegetables, real meat or correctly identify their original source any longer. Can you blame them though? I'm saying, that if the only source for tomato sauce for example, is a glass jar with a fancy label on or if one only has seen meat is nicely cut cubes, no wonder people get confused by the real thing and the process behind the end result. Just to mention one of my absolute favorites, the ready pressed frozen garlic that comes in these little plastic moulds! Moving need to get bitter.

Any way, I always thought that I was someone who knows the real, original source of things I put in my mouth, or at least I always try to be as aware of it as possible. Turns out, it's not always like that. Coming from a country like Finland famous for its forests, I'm even a bit ashamed of admitting the following. Regardless of my love for different sorts of mushrooms, it hit me that I've actually never intentionally went to the forest for gathering mushrooms. Of course I more or less know in what type of forests mushrooms grow and what time of year they grow, but never have I got fully equipped for a mushroom hunt. 

A few weeks ago I changed this unfortunate fact. With a little wooden basket on my arm and a little knife with a special brush on the other end, I went into the wild (meaning the forest next door, it's all relative). What an adventure, what a wonderful way of getting in contact with the nature, to not even mention the enormous amount of learning a stroll of a couple of hour can entail. I was completely mesmerized by the unspeakable variety of smells and colors a forest in autumn had to offer. Greens, yellows, reds, browns, the spectrum was breathtaking. After the first stock of nature I managed to concentrate on the essential – the mushrooms. Big ones, small ones, round ones, oval ones, hairy ones, slippery ones, you name it. And to think that some of them could kill a man instantly!  I'm sure my face shifting between confusion and exhilaration must have been an amusing sight! I bet locals would've loved seeing me right there and then, the joke of the week probably with my old school rubber boots, my thick rain coat and my azure blue beanie. I guess I'm a city girl after all.

After half an hour of stumbling and slipping between the trees and the stones, my little wooden basket remained empty. Suddenly the forest didn't feel that amazing at all. I mean there were tons of mushrooms everywhere, but none of them were the right ones. Yes, I was in search of a special kind, the Chanterelles, the gold of the Nordic forest. You know the breathtaking colors I wrote about a few lines earlier? Well these freaking different shades of yellow were making me go mad only an hour after I fell in love with them. Typical. How on earth would I ever distinguish the Chanterelles from the yellow leaves? Impossible, I thought. Challenging my mood even further, the mosquitos got a sudden craving for my blood. Great! Slapping and slipping, I decisively continued my hunt for gold. Must find Chanterelles! Must find Chanterelles! Only to turn the knife in the wound, as we say in Finland, somewhere in the background I could hear my Dad shouting: “I've found so many already!” God damn it! The man is colorblind for Heaven's sake! The funniest family joke is the story of my Dad picking the green leaves instead of red lingonberries on a date with Mum! Now, suddenly he's the master of Chanterelles! I really had to step it up, otherwise I'd forever be the laughing stock of the family.

With the warm sunrays shyly peeking in through the fir trees, I kept on walking. Like a big baby, I was ready to throw myself on the ground and cry. I had zero patience left and I couldn't believe I was admitting defeat. In my state of adolescent anxiety and frustration, I kicked a few poisonous mushrooms off the ground and turned around to walk towards my cheering old man with his basket filled with mushrooms. As soon as I gave up, something caught my eye. I found gold! A yellow, golden yellow, shiny yellow Chanterelle family just sitting there, under fallen Burk branches. I was totally and utterly captivated by their beauty. Never had I seen such golden Chanterelles in my life. It felt almost wrong to pick them out of the ground, but I did. It felt so pure, so true. I found them, I picked them, the way it was meant to be. It was amazing how I immediately appreciated this Nordic delicatess that much more. As I was returning back home holding a Chanterelle in my hand, I really hoped that school kids still today get to go on adventures to the forests with their teachers like I did.


  1. Well done, it was about time for you to pick them yourself, not only eating. I really enjoy your writing as much as your company together with your brother hunting chantarels in the Swedish forest.

  2. Great post sis!
    I've been waiting for an update from you, but it's been awfully silent in your blog.

    Hope you'll find the inspiration to write more often!



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