‘Sopp’, you may know by now, is the Norwegian word for mushroom. Mushrooms are one of the vegetables that you can buy in various varieties in the store here in Norway. Norway also grows wild mushrooms but you need to be careful which ones you pick and eat. The Vikings used to eat some varieties with hallucinogenic qualities to help them gain courage and foam at the mouth – you don’t want to eat those ones. Some types of wild mushrooms in Norway have strong colour pigments and were used for dying wool in Norse times.
Mushrooms are everywhere in Norway. By the time August comes they are scattered throughout the forests – under trees, in the grass and on hills. They pop up in the most unlikeliest of places but always complete the magical fairyland.
A mushroom in the forrest by the —- river in Aursfjord.
A cluster of mushrooms on the river bank next to Nidaros Cathedral.
Because of the mushroom’s ambiguity in Norway, French champignon have become the most eaten mushroom in Norway. For an Outlander like me it’s better to be safe than sorry. However, many Norwegians know what they are doing when they pick wild mushrooms. This knowledge is passed down the family during mushroom hunting trips. The hard-core mushroom hunters go into the mountain wilderness for days to get the best finds.
But mushroom hunting in Norway doesn’t have to be left to the pros. In Oslo you can go on a culinary mushroom course and cook out*. During the Autumn months mushroom hunting tours are organised around the Ulsrud Lake in Oslo. You get to find, pick and cook the best mushrooms using simple recipes that really bring out the flavour.
But you certainly don’t need to cook mushrooms to enjoy them. I don’t know how it happened but mushrooms have become a treat for Lilu. When we go to the shops, instead of being nagged for lollies, we are always dragged to the mushroom box in the green section. Lilu gets to pick a couple of mushrooms to eat on the way home. As soon as we have passed the checkout she is searching through the bags for her brown paper package. No need to remove the stem, a whole mushroom all gets eaten before we reach the car. (It’s such a Norwegian thing to do – firstly to leave no food behind, but secondly, to value vegetables over lollies.) Then Lilu is ready for her second ‘sopp’.
It certainly makes a Mamma proud seeing her children eat like a Norwegian.
The Culinary Mushroom and Cook Out courses are advertised through Norges sopp- og nyttevekstforbud (Norway’s Mushroom and New Growth Foundation). Unfortunately the site is all in Norwegian but if you click on ‘Aktiviteter’ on the side bar, (which means ‘activities’ in English), and then Google Translate that page URL you will get a good list of all the seasons courses and contacts.