The cuisine of many northern peoples is unique. A Russian person simply cannot physically appreciate the nutritional value of copalhen – sauerkraut, he risks poisoning, and he certainly will not eat lingonberries mixed with the contents of a deer stomach – a well-known Chukchi delicacy. However, the northern peoples have their own taste restrictions and even taboos. One of them is the most common mushrooms.
Mushrooms – deer food
One of the first to notice this was the doctor F. G. Ivanov-Dyatlov, who participated in the expedition of the geographic society of 1927. He described this in his work “Doctor’s Observation on the Kola Peninsula”. According to his testimony, the Lopari (Saami) almost never consumed mushrooms, considering this food “empty fun”.
And so they did not think alone. The Nenets explained their negative attitude to mushrooms by the fact that it is food for deer, and that deer eat, it is not always appropriate to eat a person.
And the Eskimos called mushrooms “damn ears”, considered them to be “rotten food” and did not eat them, since they connected their origin with excrement.
Mushrooms – penis
Anthropologist Viktor Nikolaevich Anuchin in 1914 noted that the Ostyaks (Khanty) living along the Yenisei River, not only do not eat mushrooms, but they also have a legend that mushrooms are a male genital organ. Allegedly, men had no penis before, they grew in the forest, and women used them when needed. But once at one person the “mushroom” got stuck in such a way that I had to call a man for help. The phallus pulled out a man, and women began to treat him with joy. He stuck the phallus between his legs and grabbed the food with both hands. While eating, the phallus firmly rooted to him. Women rejoiced even more and took the man as husbands. After that, the phalluses appeared in all men, and the forest members became rotten and turned into mushrooms, and only Russian capable of such muck.
Mushrooms are the people
Do not eat ordinary mushrooms and Chukchi. Anthropologist Vladimir Germanovich Bogoraz wrote in the book “Chukchi” that the only mushroom that the Chukchi ever consumed was the fly agaric, which bore their sacred meaning. Since the Chukchi considered everything alive, including inanimate objects, they represented the fly agaric as a real mushroom tribe janra-varat. On the Chukchi Peninsula, there are even cave paintings depicting fly agaric people. The Chukchi believe that mushrooms are as much as he ate into a man intoxicated with fly agaric; they take his hands by his legs, carry him to the next world and show him everything there and do absolutely incredible and by no means always pleasant things with him. But the Chukchi are completely indifferent to other mushrooms.
The Siberian Tatars, Yakuts, Yukagirs and Samoyed peoples do not eat mushrooms, while ignoring the protein-rich product is reinforced not only by vulgar tales and the custom of the ancestors, but also by the realization that mushrooms can cause illness.
This is confirmed by ethnographer Zoya Petrovna Sokolova, who writes in her book “Khanty and Mansi look from the 21st century” that Mansi and Khanty don’t eat mushrooms at all, calling them “ivmenkpil”, that is, “damn generation”. She tells the story when during the expedition they stewed mushrooms with sour cream and persuaded two Khanty students to eat them. After some time, they started vomiting.
Trehalose is to blame
Andrei Igorevich Kozlov, a senior researcher at the Anthropoecology Laboratory of the Research Institute and the Museum of Anthropology of Moscow State University, writes in his article “Why the Nenets Do Not Eat Mushrooms” that the negative attitude to mushrooms among northern peoples is closely related to the lack of enzymes that are needed to break down polysaccharides in the human intestines.
It’s all about a protein diet, to which most of the northern peoples are accustomed. According to anthropologists, an adult Eskimo eats one and a half kilograms of meat and about 160 grams of fat per day and almost does not consume complex or simple carbohydrates, which an ordinary European needs for normal brain function.
Since northern peoples have been forced to adhere to such a “diet” for thousands of years, they have developed a mechanism in their body by which simple carbohydrates – monosaccharides – are produced inside the body from amino acids from protein foods. This is due to the hormones inulin and glucagon, which are produced in the pancreas.
This feature of the organism of the northern man allows him to survive in the harsh conditions of the tundra, but it does not allow him to digest mushrooms. Roughly speaking, the Chukchi lacks enzymes due to which the complex carbohydrate trehalose, which is found in mushrooms, is completely not absorbed and causes malaise in the best case, and mushroom poisoning in the worst case.
Andrei Kozlov points out that the digestive enzymes needed to digest mushrooms are not produced in every tenth inhabitant of the Arctic. But this is not all – almost 100% of the population of the Far North does not absorb milk sugar – lactose.
Moreover, the lack of enzymes is not a disease, but simply a feature of the organism of the northern peoples. The blood sugar level of sea hypericum, adhering to traditional cuisine, does not differ at all from the normal European sugar level and averages 4.47 mmol / l.
The scientist complains that changing the food basket of the northerners and the inclusion of sugar in it in the amount in which it is consumed by the Russians or the peoples of Europe, leads the northerners to increase blood sugar and the risk of diabetes.
The anthropologist states in the article that along with sugar, northerners gradually begin to eat mushrooms. He notes that at the beginning of the 20th century the Sami almost did not eat mushrooms, then they began to collect them and harvest them only for sale, and in the 21st century the mushrooms were already firmly in the Sami cuisine.