Mushrooms

There are dozens of varieties of wild mushrooms that grow in the Cretan countryside. Residents, depending on the region, refer to them with a different name. Generally they are called omanites, while in Chania they are called manites.

Of course eating wild mushrooms requires attention, because there are also many poisonous kinds, so you should not go and collect them by yourself, if you do not know.

On Crete, the experts are called “katecharides“, from the Greek kateho – know something, hold the knowledge – i.e., the ones that know. The “experts” make outings to collect mushrooms, since they are an excellent snack, perfect accompaniment for the Cretan raki and hold their own special place on the Cretan table.

In the local dialect just some of the names of the varieties are: koumarites, ladites, sfoungarites, prinites, psomofouskes, atrikites, drosoulites, blavokoumarites, chaviarofouskes, glitsites, koukoulites.

From December to February is the best season to gather mushrooms, which, when collected, should not be uprooted, as the most conscious gatherers know. You should only cut them, so the root is preserved and the mushroom can grow again on the same spot.

The traditional recipes in which mushrooms are used, are innumerable, e.g. koumarites pilaf, mushrooms sautéed and preserved as meat, fried oftoi manites on cinder with flour and oil, mushroom stew,  as a supplement in salads and in many other dishes.

Mushrooms are a tasty food low in saturated fats and sodium, low in calories, a good source of vitamins C and D, iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium, while they also contain vitamins B, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid.