I don’t know if Lithuania has an official state vegetable, but if so, I bet it’s the mushroom. First of all, mushrooms are a key ingredient in Lithuanian dishes. If a potato dish isn’t smothered in sour cream, it’s covered in mushroom sauce. Mushrooms are one of my favorite vegetables, which is yet another reason I feel such an affinity for Lithuania. The cream of mushroom soup in this country? Delicious every time and every place I eat it — and I eat it frequently.
Mushrooms are not, however, only a staple food. They are also the focus of a favorite Lithuanian pastime — mushroom hunting in the forest. One of the greatest gaps in my Lithuanian adventures is that I have never gone mushroom hunting. I wasn’t organized enough last fall to make sure that someone took me out to gather mushrooms when they were in season. I’m sure that I’ll be living in Lithuania again in the future and mushroom hunting will be first on my list of “must do.”
Lithuanians love mushrooms so much that they even have mushroom-shaped cookies called grybukiai, “little mushrooms” — tasty little gingerbread cookies with a hard sugar frosting.