Sierra Club Green Home - Book Roundup Wednesday: Single-Species Volumes
Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystique of Mushrooms (by Greg A. Marley, $18, Chelsea Green, 2010): The author’s defense of fungi pulls from science, cultural history, and personal experience to explore the mushroom as food, drug, and object of both lust and loathing. Marley writes with the frankness of a memoirist and the detail of a man in love, invoking the multisensual seduction of a forest glen to persuade readers to make friends with the forest’s fruit.
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Northstate Mycological Club - April 6, 2011
Greg Marley writes in an easy, flowing prose that makes for pleasurable reading. While taking a serious approach to the topic of mushrooms, he adds enough humor to, now and then, add a light note to the text. The book’s subtitle, The Love, Lore and Mystique of Mushrooms, nicely sums up what the author intends to offer the reader. The book contains an enriching mix of history, culture and scientific information
The opening chapters deal with cultural attitudes toward mushrooms. They focus on Russian and Slavic appreciation and passion for mushrooms and the contrasting distrust and fear of mushrooms that, for a long time, permeated the thinking in some cultures, Anglo-Americans among them.
There is a discussion of mushrooms as food. It features the famous “Fool- proof Four” This fungal foursome was promoted by American mycologist Clyde Christensen as very safe, easily identified species. The four include the Chanterelle, Sulfur Shelf, Shaggy Mane and the Puff ball. This section of the book presents excellent portraits of the four and also a thorough look at Boletus edulis (“King Bolete” in the USA), a mushroom well-known and happily consumed worldwide. Recipes are an added bonus in this portion of the book.
Coverage of the topic of mushroom poisoning provides detailed descriptions of those of major concern; the Amanitas, Paxillus and Galerina species, and the False Morel There is coverage of hallucinogenic species as well.
Marley also tackles the important matter of mushrooms’ role in the environment. There is comment, too, on the phenomenon of fairy rings and fungal luminescence. The potential for growing mushrooms in your garden is also considered.
This is a satisfying book. It treats its subjects with clarity and care. Readers will find real enlightenment in Marley’s detailed, well-crafted descriptions of the species featured in the book. Color photos are included.
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Farmers Market Online - March 10, 2011
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 histories.
Author 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.
Mushrooms 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.
The book opens with a primer on wild mushrooming, identifying "The Foolproof Four” groups of edible mushrooms that newcomers should start with because of they are easy to identify and use. "A Few Facts About Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms” is included to encourage caution about the consequences of misidentification.
"Today, Americans 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."
A 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 preservation.
"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. Much 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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Bookworm Dad blog - December 23, 2010
We've had a week or so of wet rains and I've seen quite a few mushrooms popping up around the yard. And If you're like me you probably grew up somewhat fearful of mushrooms and being told by grownups to wash your hands after you'd touched one. I was even apprehensive of the little brown ones that came on pizzas. But occasionally I'd find a different mushroom than the usual ones in the lawn on a dead log or in a neglected corner of the yard, and there was always something oddly interesting about them. If you've felt that way too, Greg Marley understands and has taken it upon himself to educate others and share his passion for fungi in his book Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystique of Mushrooms.
Marley explains that mushrooms are as embraced by Eastern cultures as they are feared by Western ones, but with some knowledge and understanding (and a few good recipes) hitherto hidden culinary experiences await. I got this book from Amazon Vine
expecting something of a fungi field guide but other than a few pages of color photos this book isn't meant to precisely identify which mushrooms are safe or not. Instead it seems part mycorrhizal memoir by Marley, and part attempt to break down the negative misconceptions and encourage people to look beyond the usual (and usually bland) varieties available in the grocery store. Marley covers the more commonly found edible varieties (and yes, with recipes), as well as those famous (or perhaps IN
famous) poisonous varieties ("All mushrooms are edible, but some only once"). He even discusses their use in transcending the limits of the ordinary mind and religion - also known as "getting high" - from the so-called hallucinogenic `shrooms, but I preferred the section on their ecology. And his final chapter on cultivating mushrooms was interesting; enough that after reading his recipes and discussions on how tasty some of the less common varieties can be I thought it might even be fun to try growing them sometime.
But I've probably got more than enough to do with just trying to maintain a regular vegetable garden (which - between the heavy rains and the slugs - isn't looking so good right now). Still, it's kind of an interesting book to pull out and read a bit here and there on lazy Sunday afternoons when I like to reach for a gardening book. And who knows? Maybe if I get up enough courage I'll even try one of those mushrooms I find in the yard.
Read the original review here.
Civil Eats Review
December 7, 2010
Foraged wild foods these days have risen from curious oddity to standard ingredients on many epicureans’ cutting boards. And to those epicureans, few wild foods can outshine mushrooms. For most serious gastronomes reading this, wild edible mushrooms are more than likely an enticing ingredient, but of all the palatable species (most “edible” mushrooms, of course, simply aren’t worth the trouble of bringing home because of their poor taste or texture), most mushroom hunters will stick to just a few of the more reliably recognized ones. If this describes you, read Greg Marley’s new book Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares.
Marley is an indefatigable fixture among the mycophiles of New England (he has made Maine his home since 1981). He routinely lectures on the topics of wild mushrooms and medicinal plants and fungi, leads mushrooms forays, and writes prolifically. His previous book, Mushrooms for Health: Medical Secrets of Northeastern Fungi (2009), was a welcome addition to any mycophile’s shelf devoted to medicinal mushrooms; it was concisely written, easy to read even for beginners, and well priced. With Chanterelle Dreams, Marley has turned his attention—and pen—to the gustatory side of mushrooms. And lore. (You’ll buy the book for the former, and read it over and over for the latter.)
Chanterelle Dreams will appeal to anyone, no matter the level of knowledge about mushrooms and other fungi. This book will have special appeal to beginners. The outset of the book walks the reader through wild mushrooming basics, with sections on “Guidelines for the New Mycophagist” (if you’ve never encountered the word, you are probably a newbie), “The Foolproof Four” (four groups of edibles all newbies should start with because of their reliability and ease, both in identification and preparation), and a “Few Facts About Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms” (a frank but not alarmist discussion about what you may be about to put into your mouth).
Marley then forays deeper into the gastronomic forest with more exciting wild edibles: there are chapters on Chanterelles, King Boletes (porcini), and the wild Agaricus species (brethren to the humdrum white button mushroom and the only slightly more haute cremini and portobella). Along the way, Marley points out inedible mushrooms that could be confused with those you’re pursuing (“lookalikes”) and how to know the difference: morels and false morels, jack o’lantern mushrooms and chanterelles, Amanita species that resemble Agaricus species. And in addition to tips on preparation, Marley also discusses methods of preservation (drying, freezing, canning)—familiar methods to the wild food enthusiast, though not all methods apply to all mushrooms. There is also exciting information on ways to preserve your super abundance (should you be so lucky), like making mushroom duxelles paste.
I couldn’t resist the title of the second section of the book, “Poisonous Mushrooms, Not as Bad as You Fear,” and so this is where I began reading. Common sense advice is simply put: “the perceived risk far exceeds reality”. Marley points out that on average one or two persons die from eating poisonous wild mushrooms in the USA each year, but that this is far less than from ingestion of peanuts, lightning strikes, bee stings, and probably even death from all three happening simultaneously to the same person. Still, myths and sensationalism persist in our culture, in part due to just how toxic the nasty ones are. Put in terms of “standard doses” (e.g. 320 mg of caffeine in a single 16 oz serving of Starbucks coffee), it takes only 6 mg of Amanita mushroom toxin to kill 50 percent of those consuming it. And a single Amanita phalloides mushroom can easily weigh 10 times that amount!
The final third 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. Though I would have liked to read more about these curious kinds of fungi (or possible have even read an entire book on them!), the overall value, readability, and effort that went into Marley’s study is entirely worth the read. Chanterelle Dreams is an excellent work and one that seasoned mycophiles will want to pick up. It’s also a must-read for beginning mushroom hunters.
Read the original review on Civil Eats.
Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore and Mystique of Mushrooms
Greg A. Marley, Chelsea Green, $17.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 9781603582148
By following a few basic guidelines, readers interested in foraging for their food will find themselves with a wealth of culinary opportunities courtesy of longtime amateur mycologist Marley (Mushrooms for Health). An enthusiastic guide, Marley introduces foragers to the most common wild edible 'shrooms—morels, puffballs, chicken mushrooms, and shaggy mane—as well as their more recognizable cousins in the market, such as chanterelles. Basic recipes for preparation (risottos, simple pastas, and the like) are included, enabling readers to get the most from their bounty. But Marley spends equal time with their more toxic and psychedelic brethren, describing key characteristics, common regions, and potential side effects, ensuring that initiates spend more time in the woods than the ER. While the book does have a set of color slides to aid in identification of edible and poisonous varieties, the sample pales in comparison to the many species Marley mentions. (Oct.)
Mushroom lovers who can only get their fix by sampling the often paltry array that appears in their grocers produce section may be sorely tempted to indulge their mycophilia when they encounter some choice fungi in the wild. Unlike many Asian and European cultures, however, most Americans are hesitant to just pluck one off the forest floor and eat it on the spot. Perhaps such evocative names as the Death Cap mushroom has something to do with this mycophobia. Yet, says Marley, armed with proper background, this culinary caution can turn into complete confidence. From the fabled psychedelic magic mushrooms to the duplicitous appearance of false morels, Marley examines these fungal fiends and provides thorough descriptions of their habitat, appearance, and toxic properties to ward off potential misadventures. An avowed mycophile, Marley offers an entertaining and inquisitive look at both the heroes and villains of the kingdom Fungi in an enlightened guide that comprehensively examines their nutritional benefits, undesirable properties, and diverse cultural history.
(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)