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Has anyone read The Mushroom Hunters by Langdon Cook?


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I don't have this one, John. That'll probably change soon. I've got a few good mushroom cookbooks, but a another one will certainly provide a few new ideas.

My favorite is Jack Czarnecki's "Joe's Book of Mushroom Cookery." Full of general principles for sauces, soups, game, fowl, fish...

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Thanks Tasso. Dual setters, it does have a few foraging stories in it. I found it interesting and insightful as to what a real haul of mushrooms is and how valuable wild mushrooms and other foraged foods are. I've said it before and I'll say it again, those who know how to forage from the wild dine like kings.o

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm about 2/3 of the way through this book. A very entertaining read. Mushroom hunting is a whole different game from the Rockies westward. I've never been on the west coast while all the mushrooms are fruiting. My work schedule necessitates that I vacation earlier in the year. But In August 2009 I ran across enough King Boletes in central Montana to earn at least a few hundred dollars... if I had known where to sell them. I gave some away to locals I met. I could have picked quite a few number ones that time.

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Back to the book... Mr. Cook is a very good writer and his enthusiasm for hunting/collecting/cooking wild mushroom --as a "recreational"-- is infectious. There are nice cooking ideas scattered throughout the book, many coming from descriptions of menu items in Seattle restaurants. But for me, the most enjoyable thing is reading about the characters who do the hunting and buying. Much of the first half of the book centers around a few edgy yet likable players, people I wouldn't mind hanging out with... for awhile. But now I seem to be reaching a part of the book where the people Mr. Cook meets represent a less savory segment of this subculture. So it's beginning to read a bit like a satirical foil to the classic novel Heart Of Darkness, which has a plot centered around the African ivory trade in the 1800s.

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Nice bunch of kings there Dave. I think that your description of the book is right on the mark. The one thing new mushroom hunters can take away from the book is the importance of knowing how to recognize trees and terrain associated with certain types of mushrooms. The book takes a little turn at the end. The other thing about this that this book kind of points out is how small the east coast mushroom community is compared to the west coast community. I've only ever run into two other people in my area interested in the local edible mushrooms, and they were from Sweden.

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Aside from those seeking the most popular local edibles, Armillaria (popinkee) and Grifola (sheep's head... more widely, hen of the woods), almost all of the mushroom hunters I meet around here are recent immigrants from some east European country. In some areas east of the Rockies that have lots of elms, morels are hunted commercially. This past summer I spoke with a few guys from New Hampshire who sold substantial amounts of black trumpets. But this past summer saw frequent significant rainfall throughout the summer in eastern New England. I believe that the unreliability of summer/fall rains in eastern NA discourages people from adopting the commercial hunter lifestyle here.

Thanks for not giving away the ending, John. I've got a few busy days ahead this week, but I should finish the book within the next week or so.

Those two largest Kings (above) were dense solid white inside, and bugless... and about 8" tall.

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I just finished reading "The Mushroom Hunters"; a well written entertaining book. Mr. Cook's descriptions are vivid and his characters --actual people-- are well developed multi-faceted personalities. There's good information about specific western North American edible mushroom habitat. There's a sense of excitement experienced by anyone who has explored new areas in search of mushrooms, and the adventure becomes occasionally edgy in the presence of dangers associated with both natural and human elements. White Matsutake and truffles are on my own bucket list --someday, after I retire-- and although I have already twice experienced fire morels, reading this book only made me want to get back to another burn site. Mr. Cook has captured the allure of pursing wild mushrooms, something that is impossible to merely explain, something that must be experienced.

My only criticism is that, perhaps because his point of view was influenced by some of the main players in this book, IMO Mr. Cook fails to provide a realistic assessment of the potential ecological damage perpetrated by large-scale mushroom hunting. For instance, raking the forest floor for Matsutake and truffles is addressed within the book, but in a way that kinda sweeps the potential damage under the rug.

And... ladyflyfish receives a call-out in the credits :thumbsup:

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