Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)
In the tradition of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, and Mark Kurlansky’s Cod - a renowned culinary adventurer goes into the woods with the iconoclasts and outlaws who seek the world’s most coveted ingredient...and one of nature’s last truly wild foods: the uncultivated, uncontrollable mushroom.
Within the dark corners of America’s forests grow culinary treasures. Chefs pay top dollar to showcase these elusive and beguiling ingredients on their menus. Whether dressing up a filet mignon with smoky morels or shaving luxurious white truffles over pasta, the most elegant restaurants across the country now feature an abundance of wild mushrooms.
The mushroom hunters, by contrast, are a rough lot. They live in the wilderness and move with the seasons. Motivated by Gold Rush desires, they haul improbable quantities of fungi from the woods for cash. Langdon Cook embeds himself in this shadowy subculture, reporting from both rural fringes and big-city eateries with the flair of a novelist, uncovering along the way what might be the last gasp of frontier-style capitalism.
Meet Doug, an ex-logger and crabber - now an itinerant mushroom picker trying to pay his bills and stay out of trouble; and Jeremy, a former cook turned wild food entrepreneur, crisscrossing the continent to build a business amid cutthroat competition; their friend Matt, an up-and-coming chef whose kitchen alchemy is turning heads; and the woman who inspires them all.
Rich with the science and lore of edible fungi - from seductive chanterelles to exotic porcini - The Mushroom Hunters is equal parts gonzo travelogue and culinary history lesson, a rollicking, character-driven tour through a world that is by turns secretive, dangerous, and tragically American.
Editors Select, September 2013 - Self-described amateur forager and mushroom hunter Langdon Cook goes into the woods as Thoreau once did – seeking knowledge, perhaps enlightenment – and comes out with a vast knowledge for the little known world of wild mushrooms and those who seek them. The mushroom is not the star of this book, merely a muse, with the focus on the hunters in at times pursuing an illegal trade. If you’ve ever wondered about the story behind your chanterelles, The Mushroom Hunter serves up a wild, fascinating ride, reading more like a suspense novel than a book about mushrooms, providing an eye-opening look into a world many don’t even realize exists. Jessica, Audible Editor
"The thrill of the wild mushroom hunt is audible in Kevin Free's performance of this exposé… Listeners gain respect for the mushroom harvesters as Cook learns about their relationship with nature and the broad environs they traverse." (AudioFile)
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Intriguing and full of fun!
This book is full of mini adventures as the author meets all sorts of unusual people in search of mushrooms. Every stitch of the book is interesting and colorful. A wonderful read!
- valerie s.
Just What the Mycologist Ordered!
I'd only recently taken up mushrooming. Meant to learn about mushrooms for years, and finally joined the Connecticut Valley Mycological Society. I'm a nature freak, always have been, but I didn't know much about fungus until I got involved with the club. The east coast is not the mushroom mecca that the west coast is, but you can still find almost all of the species covered in the book, if not in such astonishing abundance (less so with the droughts that are hurting us all where ever we are).
I've had a taste of the way your heart pounds when you find a flush of chanterelles or trumpets, sprinted under the canopy to pounce on a king bolete (as if it could run away). So to listen to the buzz of finding hundreds of them, oh my!
This was the right book at the right time for me.
When the author gets lost trying to navigate through the fallen trees on a burn site.
He sounded like the kind of guy you'd go mushrooming with.
It made me hungry for MUSHROOMS.
I actually listened to this while I was out in the woods looking for mushrooms. Found a nice big flush of Hydnum repandum with my earbuds in!