several items on this Czech national obsession last year, but it is hard not to return to this topic because September is the month when mushroom-picking reaches fever pitch. The countryside roads are literally lined with parked cars as townies invade the woodlands, and the country people themselves are getting up earlier and earlier so as to get to the forest before the hordes descend. But the forest areas are vast in this country, so no matter how many people come, they all manage to find a quiet route through the woods and fill their basket. Then at the end of the day they compare their trophies, and retire happily home where they spend literally hours cleaning and sorting and cutting the mushrooms which are then eaten for dinner, pickled, dried or frozen.
But this doesn't mean there is no competition: akin to fishermen, mushroomers love to tell tall tales about the sizes of their catch long after the season is over, and women compare the rows of jars with pickled mushrooms that line their pantry shelves. And in long Winter months when nothing grows, the pickled and dried mushrooms, added to nearly every dish, help the Czechs survive their withdrawal symptoms until the Spring mushrooms start growing again and the hunts can resume.