Latvia goes mushroom mad at the Central Market

Mushroom hunting might just be the Latvian national sport - and with sport comes competition, and even combat. Consumers and sellers at the Central Market of Riga are currently embroiled in a heated debate about mushroom prices, reported Latvian Television on July 16.

According to Vidzeme Television, residents are outraged on social media about the prices of mushrooms at Riga Central Market, where they can skyrocket to as much as EUR 40 per kilogram. Sellers retaliated by saying there are few mushrooms in the forests so far and prices reflect this. Regionally, mushrooms are cheaper - but everywhere, regardless of pricing, customers circle them like hawks and snatch every last one while pasing the judgment of Caesar on every specimen.

The price of mushrooms per kilogram is determined by traders themselves, taking into account the time spent in the forest, fuel prices, as well as the cost of a market stall.

Skaidrīte, a trader from Auciems, said nothing is as simple about mushrooms as it may seem: 

"You go to the forest, find the mushrooms, come to the market, pay for the spot - nothing is free."

Seller Veronika said buyers were always easier to find than mushrooms: "There are restaurants, there are people who don't care about the price. But you have to go to the forest, (..) sometimes all day. It's not that the mushrooms are sitting around waiting."

Andris Eisaks, head chef of Valmiera restaurant "Vecpuisis", said no price could stand between his restaurant and an adequate supply of mushrooms. The chefs experiment and incorporate them into pate, souffle, soups, even desserts.

They might cost an arm and a leg or forty euros - nothing must be allowed to stand between a Latvian and his or her fungal fix.

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