When you grow up in the Southwest surrounded by desert, you don’t see a lot of wild mushrooms. Occasionally I would spot one in the yard, but I was much more likely to stumble across a scorpion than a toadstool. Relocating to the Pacific Northwest introduced me to lots of new experiences such as what it’s like to get an inch of rain a day instead of an inch of rain a year. I no longer have to add an apple slice to a batch of homemade cookies to help them stay moist. And wild mushrooms grow in lots of places. I can guarantee you that it is much better to find mushrooms in your lawn than scorpions.
Having fun with fungi doesn’t have to be hard especially when the library has a lot of great books to help you out. Interested in mushroom foraging? It’s super important to avoid the poisonous ones, so be sure to read one or more of the foraging titles included in this week’s reading list. Would you rather eat mushrooms than forage for them? I’ve included a cookbook in the recommended reads, but I encourage readers to search the library’s catalog, www.fvrl.org, to find more mushroom-related cookbooks. By the way, I learned a new word while gathering information for this column. A mycophagist is someone who eats fungi such as mushrooms. It turns out that I’m a mycophagist and didn’t even know it!
I think mushrooms are fascinating organisms. I also think they’re kind of weird. Fortunately, I like reading about fascinating and/or weird stuff. If you do, too, check out “Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares” by Greg A. Marley and “In Search of Mycotopia” by Doug Bierend for a deep dive into the inner world of mushrooms. And for your viewing pleasure, “Up on the Mountain” is a documentary about commercial mushroom pickers who travel around the West to harvest wild mushrooms from public forests.
- “Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystique of Mushrooms” by Greg A. Marley.
- “Cooking with Mushrooms: A Fungi Lover’s Guide to the World’s Most Versatile, Flavorful, Health-Boosting Ingredients” by Andrea Gentl.
- “Foraging Mushrooms Washington: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Wild Mushrooms” by Jim Meuninck.
- “How to Forage for Mushrooms Without Dying: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Identifying 29 Wild, Edible Mushrooms” by Frank Hyman.
- “In Search of Mycotopia: Citizen Science, Fungi Fanatics, and the Untapped Potential of Mushrooms” by Doug Bierend.
- “Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest” by Steve Trudell.
- “Up on the Mountain” (DVD) directed by Olivier Matthon.