Mushroom picking is a popular seasonal activity for many European cultures.
You speak from your Italian background experience, but other culture groups such as Macedonian, Russian, Ex-Yugoslavian and Polish do just as much have a well entrained connection with the activity.
You found a fantastic essay about the Polish experience, Polonia In Australia, and attached it as a PDF below the photo, please reader go to the 3rd chapter at page 19 of the document to read about the cultural relationship of the polish community with the Belango State Forest, 1 and a half hour south of Sydney.
The writer, Max Kwiatkowsky, uses the practice as an example of non-Anglo-Celtic interpretation of landscape, and how this is something quite unseen or un-acknowledged by the main stream media/culture/policy makers.
As he states in his conclusion,
“ Belanglo (together with other Pine Plantation) [...] represent not just an example of ‘ethnoscape’-an ethnic background-dependent way of viewing and interacting with a landscape- but a kind of (at least temporary) Polish ‘ethnic space’, and a fairly exclusive one at that. As such it directly counters commonly held assumption of ethnic spaces being primarily an urban phenomenon, confined to areas of concentrated minority/immigrant settlement-to, in other words, the often disparaged “ghettos”.
Patently, ethnic minority groups, whether Poles, Macedonian, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Greeks or others, do get out and about just like all other Australians at least occasionally leaving the cities for recreational purposes. It’s just that the places they like to visit, and the way they view and use such places, may significantly differ from the Anglo-Celtic norm.”
Pic from Yewenyi
Now days State forest are starting to acknowledge this cultural connection, and a few sites are now giving information on how and when this activities happen, like this page in the Forestry NSW Government site, or this site about Oberon’s tourists attractions.
And yet, when you get out in the fields and exercise what your culture always being doing, possibly providing new way of reading/interacting with environment, you speak to someone and you get asked “so,where you from” as they’re very second question.
Interesting the percieved appropriate interaction with the environment, how culturally restrictive is, innit?