The story of mushrooms

In Russia, “getting there” can be as much of the adventure as gathering baskets and baskets of mushrooms in a beautiful, thick forest.     



Photos courtesy Anatoly Portnov.


Pelagaeya, whose native language is Russian, is one of our youngest writers. She is now in 7th grade, but began writing for us when she was in 4th grade!

I LIKE to pick mushrooms. Well, actually, LOTS of people in Russia like to pick mushrooms. When we pick mushrooms we go to different places. Sometimes I go with my mother and father and sometimes with my grandmother. I do not pick mushrooms that often because there are lots of bugs in the forest and I don’t like bugs. You pick mushrooms in the forest. That is where they grow.

     Children learn to pick mushrooms when their parents think they can be in the forest a long time. Sometimes children start picking mushrooms when they are five or six-years-old.  Not all mushrooms are good. You have to learn which ones are good and bad. Sometimes the mushrooms are very little and so you work hard but do not get very much. And sometimes there are so many mushrooms you cannot stop! 

      We only pick the mushrooms we are sure are good. Our parents teach us which ones to pick and also in school we have a class that teaches us about the forest: which mushrooms and other things are good or bad for us. When I was very little, I had to ask all the time which ones were good. Even today I sometimes ask.

     Russians love to pick mushrooms because it is interesting to walk in the forest and fun to find them. Mushrooms are very tasty. There are many mushroom recipes we love. The best mushroom recipe is soup! When my cousin was little, she called it “Dirty Soup,”  because this soup has a strange color. My family salts mushrooms to preserve them all winter. But we also like to stew them.

     The last time we picked mushrooms we drove to a place in the car. My mother and I kept yelling, “Stop! Stop!” to my father because they were everywhere along the road.  You have to look for places where there are not other people picking, because they will have already gotten the good ones.  —Pelagaeya

Greebnitsa (Mushroom soup) 

Recipe courtesy Anatoly Portnov of the Ural Mountains.

Editor’s note: This is FABULOUS!


2 cups mushrooms, 2 medium onions, 2 large potatoes, water


Finely slice mushrooms. Put mushrooms in a soup pot (a cast iron pot gives the best flavor). Add just enough water to cover the tops of the mushrooms in the pot. Add salt to taste. Boil for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add finely diced potatoes. Boil another 15-20 minutes. In a separate frying pan, fry onions in butter until lightly golden, not brown. The last 5 minutes, add the onions to the soup pot plus 1 bay leaf.  Serve hot with a tablespoon of sour cream on top.

 ©InterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us: