Have you seen them and wondered what they are, those huge mushrooms that I have seen popping up around Riverside? I spotted them in one of the Commons parks, a front lawn on Southcote, and by the parking lot at Riverside Bank. They seem to spring up out of nowhere and grow rapidly — I mean in a day. Don’t know if they are edible and won’t try. I prefer my mushrooms out of can, jar or carton.
Since my inquiring mind wanted to know, I contacted Riverside Forester Mike Collins, who explained they are most likely to appear in spots where a tree once stood. He did give the name in Latin, but since my Latin is more the Catholic Latin, I will just refer to it as the huge mushroom the size of a Frisbee.
Good conversation and I learned a lot. We’re never too old to learn.
Which brought me to thinking about the Houby Fest, houby meaning “mushroom” in Czech and important to the people of Czech and Slavic descent (like husband Joe). In our area the houby is honored with a big parade down 22nd Street. I remember being on a committee to select a contestant from Riverside to be the Houby Queen and ride in the parade.
It was quite an event in Berwyn and Cicero, the big parade and business having Houby Festival specials, and don’t you just miss the Troy Store? Food was a big part of the fest: Vesecky’s Bakery, Sebesta’s butcher shop to pick up homemade hot dogs, Shotola’s Foods, and, of course, one had to have something from Chateau Food products. On the side, Chateau Foods is still in business with another generation of the Shotola family, grandson Matt Flickinger.
I was pleased to learn the Houby Fest continues and this year will be its 50-year celebration. Not quite sure what is planned other than it will happen on the weekend of Oct. 4-7.
So one thing led to another in this column from mushrooms to the Houby Fest. Did you know that people who go out foraging for mushrooms are affectionately known as Houby Hunters? Thank goodness for people like them. Reading this makes me have a taste for a good Bohemian meal like pork, dumplings and sauerkraut or Svickova. I know just where to find it and I don’t have to go far, Little Bohemia on Burlington or Riverside Restaurant on Harlem Avenue. Whichever I choose, it will be accompanied by a Pilsen beer and a kolacky for dessert — cheese for husband Joe and apricot for me.