Mycological Association of Greater Philadelphia Message Board › A New Mushroom Book

A New Mushroom Book

Jessica S.
user 24985112
Philadelphia, PA
Post #: 1
Mushroom: A Global History
Publication: October 2013, Reaktion Books UK

» examines the complex role of mushrooms in human history
and food culture
» shows how some cultures imbued mushrooms with life’s
messiness and rottenness, whilst others recognized the
delights of cooking and eating them
» showcases many historic and contemporary recipes, as well as
presenting numerous images of mushrooms diminutive and
enormous, nondescript and outlandish, from around the globe

Known as the meat of the vegetable world, mushrooms have their ardent
supporters as well as their fierce detractors. Hobbits go crazy over them,
while Diderot thought they should be “sent back to the dung heap where
they are born.” In Mushroom, Cynthia D. Bertelsen examines the colorful
history of these divisive edible fungi. As she reveals, their story is fraught
with murder and accidental death, hunger and gluttony, sickness and
health, religion and war. Some cultures equate them with the rottenness of
life while others delight in cooking and eating them. And then there are
those “magic” mushrooms, which some people link to ancient religious

To tell this story, Bertelsen travels to the nineteenth century, when
mushrooms entered the realm of haute cuisine after millennia of being
picked from the wild for use in everyday cooking and medicine. She
describes how this new demand drove entrepreneurs and farmers to
seek methods for cultivating mushrooms, including experiments in
domesticating the highly sought after but elusive truffles, and she explores
the popular pastime of mushroom hunting, with numerous historic and
contemporary recipes. Packed with images of mushrooms from around the
globe, this savory book will be essential reading for fans of this surprising,
earthy fungus.­ "Look Inside" feature available
Cynthia D. Bertelsen is a culinary historian and photographer from Blacksburg, VA. Author of the culinary history blog ‘Gherkins & Tomatoes’ and numerous articles on food and food history, she has won the Julia Child Independent Scholar grant, awarded by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
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