This engaging text introduces readers to both the heroes and the
villains of the Fungi kingdom, from the seductively flavorful
chanterelle to the poisonous Death Cap, highlighting their culinary
attributes, undesirable characteristics, and complex cultural
Greg Marley is a well-known New England mycophile who
frequently lectures on wild mushrooms and medicinal plants, leads
mushroom expeditions, and writes books on these subjects.
for Health: Medical Secrets of Northeastern Fungi, published
in 2009, covered medicinal mushrooms; this one explores the gustatory
traits of the fungi and the lore behind them.
opens with a primer on wild
mushrooming, identifying "The Foolproof Four” groups
mushrooms that newcomers should start with because of they are easy to
identify and use. "A Few Facts About Edible and Poisonous
included to encourage caution about the consequences of
generally forage for mushrooms along the aisles of the produce section
of the supermarket," Marley explains, "and the more adventurous at
outdoor farmer's markets or specialty stores offering wild mushrooms."
section on "Mushrooms as Food" includes chapters on Chanterelles, Boletus edulis
(porcini), and The Agaricus Brothers. Recipes for dishes like Mushroom
Couscous, Porcini Risotto, Creamy Mushroom Soup and The Perfect
Chanterelle Omelet are offered along with tips on preparation and
"In the United States, most people who collect wild mushrooms for food
do it for the unique flavor and textures that mushrooms add to a
skillfully prepared dish rather than as a survival source of
nutrition," Marley points out.
of the book is a collection of brief chapters devoted to a number of
disparate topics. Psychedelics are covered–their chapter on
the use, then abuse, and now once again research into the legitimate
medical use of hallucinogenic mushrooms, is among the most interesting.
Their historic link to religions of several ethnic groups around the
world throughout history adds to their mystique.
The remaining chapters cover fungi in the ecosystem, truffles,
bioluminescence, fairy rings—which mushrooms make them and
why (spoiler alert: it may not really be due to fairies dancing on the
lawn after dark!)–and humongous fungi, the honey mushrooms.
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