It ought to be a folk saying: He who picks mushrooms as a child is addicted for life. My addiction to грибы began at the age of 4. Ever since, these “meat of the forest” have been a beloved part of my life.
This addiction is hard to explain to the uninitiated. What’s so attractive about combing through the moss under pine trees in search of the most precious and noble of all mushrooms—the белый гриб (white mushroom, a.k.a. боровик)? Or why should one endure countless mosquito bites just to spot the brown cap of a подберёзовик (literally, “the one under the birch tree”). But do it once—uncover these mushrooms on your own and then sup on soup made from them an hour later—and you’ll hardly notice the scratches on your face from tree branches or how soaked your feet are from tromping through a swamp in search of a cool, red-haired подосиновик (literally “the one under the aspen tree,” this mushroom, in fact, often prefers to nest under ferns near former swamps.
If the early bird gets the worm, he also gets the best mushrooms. A dedicated mushroom hunter sets out no later than 5 am, better yet 3 or 4 o’clock. That way, he has the forest all to himself—before less avid грибники go on the prowl. Of course, it’s tough to get up so early, but then, as the proverb has it, назвался груздем—полезай в кузов (literally, “if you want to call yourself a big white mushroom, you have to get into the basket”).
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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
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