To this day mushroom-picking remains a national pastime in Poland. In a good season, when the weather is right, a family can gather enough for the entire year. What isn't used at once is canned, brine-cured, pickled, or dried for the months ahead.
Fresh mushrooms are delicious in soups and stews as well as scrambled eggs, and dried mushrooms are in a class by themselves. They greatly enhance the flavor in soups, gravies, and sauerkraut dishes, including bigos, which is known as Poland's national dish. Interestingly enough, the characteristic feature of Polish cuisine is that it regards mushrooms as not only a garnish or flavoring. Both fresh, wild and domestic, cultivated mushrooms as well as the reconstituted dry variety are often a meal in themselves, usually sauteed in butter or simmered in sour cream.
To Poles, the king of mushrooms is the borowik (Boletus edulis), commonly known in English as King Bolete. Its Polish name is derived from bor (coniferous forest) and aptly defines its preferred natural habitat. It is also referred to at times as grzyb prawdziwy (true mushrooms) or prawdziwek, implying that all other species are definitely inferior. But many feel the fresh butter-fried rydz (Lactarius deliciosus) equals the fresh bolete in taste or comes in a close second.
Other desirable species include pieczarka (meadow mushrooms), kurka (chanterelle), maslak (sticky bun), gaska (Tricholoma), golabek (Russula), and kania (parasol mushroom). Although the smardz (morel) is also picked in Poland, it is ranked as a mediocre find, since there are many species that equal or surpass it in taste. In the U.S., by contrast, morels are among the most highly prized wild species. The boletus family also includes the kozlarz babka (birch bolete). They are ranked fair to good but cannot compete with the King Bolete. Widely marketed in Poland as an economy version of the latter is the podgrzybek (Boletus chrysenteron) which grows in great abundance but is definitely inferior to the real thing.
The statement that mushrooms are "all flavor and no nutrition" or that they are non-fattening and therefore a perfect diet food is only partially true. Nutritionally they are low in protein, but they contain plenty of vitamin PP, provitamin D, minerals (notably zinc and copper), some B vitamins, and glycogen, a substance that promotes the body's natural functions. They indeed have very few calories and someone who ate nothing but boiled mushrooms would certainly lose weight. But the butter, cream, and other such embellishments with which they are often prepared definitely undermine their low-calorie status.
But no matter how you slice them (no pun intended!), mushrooms are simply great eating.
Taken from Polish Heritage Cookery by Robert and Maria Strybel.