Looking for Mushrooms — It’s the Same as Looking for the Meaning of Life

Veronika Ivanova

Still from Evaldas Jansas' "Linkejimai/Wishes" (1998) Digital Video. 23:01 duration

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, factory workers, surgeons, veterans, scholars, all suddenly deprived of state guarantees, ran to the woods to collect mushrooms.1

Грибной Жульен 
Serves four as a main dish.

2 pounds foraged chanterelle
1 1 ⁄ 2 cups heavy cream
1 1 ⁄ 2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 1 ⁄ 2 European-style sour cream
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled and quartered into 2-inch pieces)

Tear any large chanterelles into halves or quarters.
Heat a heavy-sided pot over medium heat, and melt the butter. Add the chanterelles and cook down, stirring occasionally, until the chanterelles give off their liquid and it mostly evaporates, about 10 minutes.
While the chanterelles are cooking, whisk together the heavy cream, sour cream, and salt.
When the chanterelles have cooked down, pour in the heavy cream mixture, and stir everything together.
Add the potatoes and stir again, coating everything with the braising liquid.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and partially cover (leave a small crack to let steam escape).
Simmer gently for 2 to 3 hours, contemplate the meaning of your life, until the potatoes and cream have both turned to a light golden brown. 
Pause your contemplation once an hour to stir.
Serve hot.

Sveta Yamin-Pasternak, “How the devils went deaf: Ethnomycology, cuisine and perception of landscape in the Russian far north” (PhD diss., University of Alaska, Fairbanks) 2007.