Sunday, 6 June 2010

Chicken of the Woods

For the first week of my return to the Czech Republic it hardly stopped raining (or it felt like it anyway). Now at last the sun is shining and I hope it stays that way, as the long planned tour of South Bohemia by the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society starts on Monday.

But being British I managed to find a silver lining to the clouds: for the first time I have been picking one of my favourite fungi here, chicken of the woods. I was driving along and there it was growing on one of the oak trees that line the man-made lakes near Trebon. I stopped the car, quarter filled a carrier bag in a few minutes and went my way. One night I ate it schnitzel style with lemon juice and the night before I used my favourite chicken of the woods recipe – risotto. The rest is in the freezer, as this fungi freezes without loss of texture and flavour.

I was telling a Czech friend about it and she sighed. “We Czechs do not eat it,” she said. “You British are much more adventurous.” She couldn't be further from the truth – most Brits wouldn't dare pick any wild fungus, let alone eat it. I am an exception from that rule. But then I suppose having broken the British "don't eat any wild mushrooms" taboo, I don't have any of the Czech prejudices either, including the one against fungi that grow on trees. All the more for me then!


Philip Wilkinson said...

This is indeed a noble mushroom. But as you say, we British are for the most part afflicted with fear of fungus and there's a certain snobbishness about wild food generally. Richard Mabey recalls being introduced to a man at some do who flinched with recognition: 'Ah, you're the fellow who eats weeds,' he said.

Karen said...

It's so pretty! It has to cook up beautifully and make a lovely presentation. How did you get the guts to try this if a Czech wasn't there to talk you into it?

potok said...

Well Karen, having a Czech mushroom coach who regularly eats mushrooms other Czechs wouldn't touch helps. I have probably eight books on mushrooms spread between my Czech and English homes, which I study constantly. There are about fifty mushrooms which are both edible and thought good. I started with mushrooms which are easy to identify and not confusable with poisonous ones and slowly expanded my repertoire. As it happens chicken of the woods is a doddle - there is nothing like it and comes earlier than most of the others. BTW it is highly prized in the US.

Knedlikova said...

Hi there,

I've just stumbled on your blog via Empty Nest Expat and am enjoying looking through.

I've linked to you from my new Prague food and drink blog :

Would you mind linking to me in return?




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