In Chios and especially in the northern part of the island, when it is raining, a special type of mushrooms that the locals call “Amanites”, grow on the mountains. With the scientific name Lactarius Salmanicolor, these mushrooms resemble the pleurotus mushrooms in the shape, but they have a difference in color, since they are orange, and in taste, since they are much tastier.
They are usually found under the pine trees, alone, or in groups of 2-3 mushrooms and like most wild mushrooms are scarce, since their main part is under the earth and almost always they are invisible. They grow in the most unlikely places and in order to find them one needs knowledge, effort and patience. The lovers of these mushrooms should be accompanied by an expert who knows how to distinguish them from poisonous ones that have a similar look.
The locals however know specific spots where the mushrooms grow every year and also how to discover them, and this knowledge, that of course they usually do not share, makes the process easier for them. In order to protect the species, there is a limitation by the local forestry authority, which sets a limit for every mushroom lover, to cut up to two kg per day and to be careful not to touch their roots.
Amanites are usually fried and then served with some vinegar and lemon, but they are also delicious roasted or sautéed in the pan with wine and garlic! So, next time in Chios, ask for this exquisite “meze” at the local taverns. If you accompany them with some local wine, ouzo or souma, you will understand why the Chians walk miles on the mountains, early in the morning to discover them.