The hunt for mushrooms at the Valia Kalda Valley in the prefecture of Grevena of northwestern Greece has been taking place for decades.
The so-called “mushroom hunting,” or wild mushroom picking, is a trade that has been passed down from generation to generation.
The region is known for the hundreds of species of wild mushrooms that grow there, many of them edible, and for the plethora of local dishes featuring them, as well as an annual Mushroom Festival.
A Mushroom Society has also been set up, which informs the public about the area’s mushrooms and how to cook them. Whether a hobby or profession, mushroom picking is part of the daily life of Grevena.
Indeed, wild mushrooms are an important source of revenue for Grevena, with many locals involved in the trade. There is even a specialized local taverna that features dishes with more than a hundred wild species throughout the year.
Mushrooms are the basis of many recipes in Grevena, Greece
Mushrooms are widely known for their use in a plethora of recipes as main dishes or side dishes.
Grevena residents, however, have developed innovative recipes for the use of mushrooms as sweet treats. Mushroom liqueur, mushroom loukoumi, and mushroom spoon sweet are just three representative alternatives.
Mushroom festivals are frequently held in Grevena where thousands of visitors are welcomed.
Out of 2,200 species of mushrooms in Greece, only 150 are edible. Greek wild mushrooms are top quality, and they are a very tasty, healthy, and nutritious produce. They are a high- protein food also rich in minerals and trace elements.
Rare species of mushrooms
The region is home to some rare European species. Some of these are threatened with extinction.
Morel [Morchella esculenta]
Having a conical or ovate cap and a network of ridges with pits between them, the morel is considered to be one of the most delicious and expensive mushrooms, second only to truffles. Mushroom connoisseurs think very highly of its liver or foie gras flavour and enjoy its heavenly fleshy taste in soups, sauces, charcuterie, meat, and fish dishes.
Orange or yellow, wavy, trumpet or inverted funnel-shaped, this mushroom will tickle your taste buds with its dainty fruity flavour. It’s perfect with white sauces garnishing poultry or lamb dishes. Tip: Try it as a spoon sweet!
Cep [Boletus Edulis]
This mushroom is large and fluffy with a chestnut and hazelnut flavour. Savor it as a meze [tidbit] either grilled or fried. It can also be enjoyed as a side dish to fish dishes, omelettes, or risottos.
Horn of plenty, black chanterelle [Craterellus cornucopioides]
This edible mushroom a.k.a. ‘black trumpet’ has an exquisite floral and subtle, smoky flavor, and it is the perfect side dish for game.
Caesar’s mushroom [Amanita Caesarea]
This is a very rare mushroom species with a divine taste reminiscent of shellfish. Ancient Greek and Latin writers have extolled the nutritional and culinary value of this flavorful mushroom.
Related: Why are Some Mushrooms Poisonous?