...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Autumn market and mushrooms

Färgargården museum and cafe lies along the scenic Motala ström, a river that slings itself in an S-shape through the city of Norrköping. In the 1800's when Norrköping was an industrial town producing textiles, Färgargården (lit. The coloring yard) was where fabrics were taken to be dyed by craftsmen. Today, two centuries later, the small wooden coloring sheds that stand on the sloping river bank contribute to the old-style ambiance of Cafe Färgården, whose specialty of waffles are well sought after as a part of the Norrköping summer experience.

Twice a year, stalls are put up on the Färgargården grounds for the classic spring- or autumn market. About two dozen local producers, craftsmen and farmers come to the market to display their wares. I was with my friend Pabla this morning to check out the autumn market (höstmarknaden), which also marks the end of Cafe Färgargården's opening season, and symbolically marks the end of summer.

People sold autumn fruits and vegetables, decorative wreaths, homemade sausages (made of, among other things, deer and ostrich), locally-produced honey and cheese, knits, handicrafts, gardening tools, flowers arrangements – and even soap, newspaper subscriptions, and allotment gardening lots!

I would have bought beets, but of course they don't take card. And besides, I already got a free bag of apples from Pabla, who plucked them from her kolonilott.

Something that really marks autumn as a season are mushrooms, and these were of course not without representation in the autumn market. A group of mushroom lovers had set up a stall – not to sell mushrooms, which are growing in the forests in abundance nowadays – but to inform people of which ones were edible and which ones were poisonous. It will probably take a long time for me, if at all, to acquire skills to recognize edible mushrooms and have the courage to eat the ones I pluck myself. However, it's good to get a feel just for which mushrooms are terribly lethal and which are edible and easy to spot. In case I get lost in the forest, you know.

Classifications of mushrooms include boletales (Swedish: soppar), most of which are edible, and amanita (Swedish: flugsvampar), which includes the most toxic mushrooms known to man. Both groups are pictured above.

These mushrooms are all edible, classified under edible mushrooms (Swedish: matsvampar).
Can you tell the difference? Not me.

Below is a picture of the most easily-recognizable edible mushroom, the chanterelle. Described as an excellent food mushroom – the "king of mushrooms", I even heard – these bright orange mushrooms are said to appear to shine on the forest floor. More detailed descriptions of this mushroom can be read in Wikipedia, or even better, in a book about mushrooms.

Thankfully for the amateur mushroom picker, chanterelles don't have poisonous look-alikes. However, there is a mushroom sort that looks like a small chanterelle, and although far from lethal, it doesn't taste good:

My mushroom expertise is limited to skumkantareller, flavored marshmallow candies you can buy at the local candy store. Brown ones are chocolate-flavored, pink ones taste like strawberry and, after eating two pieces, my mouth tastes so sweet I can't distinguish what flavor the green one is. But at least it was non-poisonous. :-)


Anonymous Esther said...

Love the mushrooms! Swedish famine food turned luxury food, yey! :-)hao

5:42 PM


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