September 01, 2002

Marinated Mushrooms

As summer’s heat gives way to autumn’s crisp air, days grow shorter, and leaves change color, Russians grab their wicker baskets and head to the forest. For Russians, mushroom hunting is a ritual that gently eases the body and soul into the calendar’s colder months. 

Gathering, sorting, and preserving mushrooms—the so-called third hunt, following the first hunt, for big game, and the second for small game—is almost a mystical experience, and mushroom hunters, while proud to show off their finds, are secretive about where they discovered them. 

In his autobiography, Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov describes his mother’s favorite pastime of picking mushrooms:

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