Tasty find for Russian researchers in Alaska

August 23, 2009

You have to be creative when you’re a Russian scientist, bad weather is preventing your research ship from picking you up for your expedition and you’ve got time to kill in Nome, Alaska.

Such was the case for a group waiting to begin a joint mission with U.S. researchers in the Bering Sea in late August.

But a side trip into the rolling, lichen-covered hills around Nome, the one-time gold rush town on the Alaskan coast, proved to be more than worth their while for the prize they stumbled upon — mushrooms.

A hillside was spotted with the large, red-topped variety Russians crave in soup or fried with onions and potatoes. Thrilled, the team fanned out to gather armfuls of the fungi.

The scientists are part of the RUSALCA expedition, brought together by the Russian Academy of Sciences and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They will spend the next month and a half studying the impact of climate change on the water, air and organisms in the body of water between the two countries.

But today is about mushrooms, and there’s no concern whatsoever about anyone mistakenly plucking a poisonous one. “Russians know what these mushrooms look like,” said Elizaveta Ershova, a zooplankton specialist.

The plan is to give them to the chefs on the research ship Professor Khromov, after it finally enters port to load people and gear, to whip up a dinner with the delicacy.

“There’s a similarity to the gold rush,” Aleksey Ostrovskiy, an expedition coordinator, said of the excitement of discovering the mushrooms. “We just don’t have them like this in the Moscow area.”

(Photo – Elizaveta Ershova, Aleksey Ostrovskiy and Alexander Savvichev toast mother lode of mushrooms outside Nome, Alaska, on August 22, 2009. REUTERS/Jeffrey Jones)

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Large red topped mushrooms in British Columbia, adjacent to Alaska are highly poisonous. We call them Amanitas, also called Fly Agaric.

Posted by stephen ottridge | Report as abusive