Sep 11, 2011

Picking mushrooms

Time for the first installment of "How to embrace your Swedishness". I know you have been waiting eagerly. Or not. Finding inspiration for this blog post wasn't very hard at all. It went something like this:

Me, thinking: "Hmm, what could I write about that is typically Swedish? Let's see... Well, August is almost over (this was a few weeks ago, mind you) and what do we Swedes do then? That's right, we venture into the forest to pick mushrooms and we eat crayfish! Alright, let's do that then."

So, without further ado, this is how you embrace your Swedishness when it comes to late summer/early fall activities.

#1 - Picking mushrooms
First, you have to get your gear in order (or as I like to say, get your shit together man!). You can't just slip into any piece of clothing and hop on into the wilderness. You have to be prepared. Any real Swede knows this. So, step one:
Clothing. You need what we in Swedish call "oömma kläder". Basically, clothes that you don't give a fuck if they get dirty and/or ripped. A pair of pants (or trousers for you British people) that you don't particularly care about; an old, gross t-shirt that you can sweat in (because you WILL sweat. A lot.); a shirt (preferably a thin cotton one if it's warm, or a flannel one if it's a little chillier); good, long socks to stuff your pant-legs in (beware of ticks!!!); and sturdy boots.
And for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT FORGET TO USE ANTIPERSPIRANT! As I said, you will sweat, and as all real Swedes know, sweat attracts flies. All kinds of flies. Flies in general are okay, in my opinion. Flies in your nostrils - not so cool. There is also a kind of fly here in Sweden that is...vile. According to wikipedia it is common in most of Europe and has now also been introduced to North America. It is small, disgusting, and really difficult to get rid of once it lands on you. I speak, of course, of the älgfluga/deer fly. It loves to crawl into your hair and just sit there and be all disgusting and gross, and sometimes it even bites you. It most likely hurts. I HATE this fly. Blach! So, to avoid getting it all burrowed up in your hair, you should wear a hat or a scarf (or huckle as we say in Swedish). Or, do as I do. Just take a sweater and wrap it around your head like a turban. Like so:

Here you also see the oh-so-practical flannel shirt. I know, I look stylish as hell. When you are properly dressed you also need a basket for carrying your findings, sometimes you need a knife, and every time you need to bring a bottle of water. Remember, you WILL be sweating, and as any real Swede knows, it's important to keep yourself hydrated. Now that you've got your shit together it's time for step two:
Venture out into the forest. If you are new to this, you should ease into it. Start by walking on a dirt road in or toward the forest. Like so:

If you are very lucky, like my cousin and I were, you can find gold even beside the road, without actually having to step between the trees. Like so:

Here, the keen observer will observe that I am not wearing proper foot attire for a walk in the forest. Well spotted. Of course, there is a simple explanation for this. I wasn't, in fact, walking IN the forest, just on the dirt road, which makes my choice of shoes okay. But as you can see, you don't always actually need to go into the forest to find mushrooms, sometimes you'll find them beside the road. Lovely.
Anyway, if you don't have a basket to gather your gold in, you should know that plastic bags aren't really an option, due to bacteria and shit. You can always use your huckle/scarf to carry your mushrooms. Like so:

Another great tip for embracing your Swedishness is to bring a friend. Swedes are often terrified of being alone (probably has something to do with it being dark here a lot and that it is no fun being alone in the dark), so you cannot be a proper Swede if you don't bring someone along. I brought my mother. Or, more correctly, she brought me. I'm terribly lazy sometimes you know. Can't be bothered. That's my mother right there, down below. Also clad in a flannel shirt, like the proper Swede she is.
My last helpful tip is to get your shit together also when it comes to which mushrooms to pick and not to pick. The golden ones I have picked, chanterelles, are every Swedes favourite. They are absofuckinglutely lovely! The one in the picture below is very cute, but perhaps not so suitable for dinner. Depends on if you like stomach pains or not. I don't.

Remember the deer fly? This is what it does to elks!

Or...maybe not. But still.
So, get your shit together, go out into the woods and bring home the gold. Embrace your Swedishness!

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