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A culinary and natural history of mushroom foraging subculture juxtaposes the experiences of savvy mushroom-hunting iconoclasts and loners against the high-priced capitalism of four-star kitchens.
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. Praise for The Mushroom Hunters “A rollicking narrative . . . Cook [delivers] vivid and cinematic scenes on every page.”—The Wall Street Journal “The Mushroom Hunters lends fresh, sharp illumination to a little-known but vigorously contested patch of gastronomic turf. . . . [It’s an] entertaining ramble through the woods with a group of ragtag characters.”—The Washington Post “Like Susan Orlean in The Orchid Thief, Seattle author [Langdon] Cook shines a light on a shady subculture operating at the seam between wilderness and commerce. Like author Michael Pollan, he knows that every bite of food these days has a complex, often unsavory backstory. Like the late Hunter Thompson, he not only goes along for the ride with the shifty characters he’s writing about, but drives the getaway car. After reading The Mushroom Hunters, you’ll never look at a portobello the same way. . . . [A] beguiling, surprising book.”—The Seattle Times “Not simply about mushrooms, this book examines human behavior, economics, food, society, and nature. In the end, readers will have learned a great deal about U.S. economic and social structures—all while being entertained and enlightened by stories of gastronomy and mushrooms. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal “Intrepid and inspired.”—Publishers Weekly “Uncultivated mushrooms are one of our last truly wild foods; it often takes truly wild and rough mushroom hunters to bring them to our table. Cook travels and hunts with them in a riveting, crazy undertaking, told in often-poetic prose.”—Shelf Awareness From the Hardcover edition.
Foraging is not just a throwback to our hunter-gatherer past; it's a way to reconnect with the landscape. And Langdon Cook is not just your typical grocery cart-toting dad. For him, gourmet delicacies abound, free for the taking if we just open our eyes. As a result, he finds himself free-diving in icy Puget Sound in hopes of spearing a snaggletooth lingcod, armed with nothing more than a "Hawaiian sling." He tempts fate by eating mushrooms that may or may not be poisonous. He strings up a fly rod to chase after sea-run trout. He even pulls on the gardening gloves to collect stinging nettles. In wry, detailed prose, he traces his journey from wrangler of pre-packaged calories to connoisseur of coveted wild edibles. Structured around the seasons of the year, each chapter focuses on a specific food type and concludes with a recipe featuring the author's hard-won bounty, a savory stop to each adventure-filled morsel.
"[Mueller reveals] the brazen fraud in the olive oil industry and [teaches] readers how to sniff out the good stuff." —Dwight Garner, New York Times For millennia, fresh olive oil has been one of life’s necessities—not just as food but also as medicine, a beauty aid, and a vital element of religious rituals. But this symbol of purity has become deeply corrupt. A superbly crafted combination of cultural history and food manifesto, Extra Virginity takes us on a journey through the world of olive oil, opening our eyes to olive oil’s rich past as well as to the fierce contemporary struggle between oil fraudsters of the globalized food industry and artisan producers whose oil truly deserves the name "extra virgin."
An incredibly versatile cooking ingredient containing an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and possibly cancer-fighting properties, mushrooms are among the most expensive and sought-after foods on the planet. Yet when it comes to fungi, culinary uses are only the tip of the iceberg. Throughout history fungus has been prized for its diverse properties—medicinal, ecological, even recreational—and has spawned its own quirky subculture dedicated to exploring the weird biology and celebrating the unique role it plays on earth. In Mycophilia, accomplished food writer and cookbook author Eugenia Bone examines the role of fungi as exotic delicacy, curative, poison, and hallucinogen, and ultimately discovers that a greater understanding of fungi is key to facing many challenges of the 21st century. Engrossing, surprising, and packed with up-to-date science and cultural exploration, Mycophilia is part narrative and part primer for foodies, science buffs, environmental advocates, and anyone interested in learning a lot about one of the least understood and most curious organisms in nature.
From the award-winning author of The Mushroom Hunters comes the story of an iconic fish, perhaps the last great wild food: salmon. For some, a salmon evokes the distant wild, thrashing in the jaws of a hungry grizzly bear on TV. For others, it’s the catch of the day on a restaurant menu, or a deep red fillet at the market. For others still, it’s the jolt of adrenaline on a successful fishing trip. Our fascination with these superlative fish is as old as humanity itself. Long a source of sustenance among native peoples, salmon is now more popular than ever. Fish hatcheries and farms serve modern appetites with a domesticated “product”—while wild runs of salmon dwindle across the globe. How has this once-abundant resource reached this point, and what can we do to safeguard wild populations for future generations? Langdon Cook goes in search of the salmon in Upstream, his timely and in-depth look at how these beloved fish have nourished humankind through the ages and why their destiny is so closely tied to our own. Cook journeys up and down salmon country, from the glacial rivers of Alaska to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest to California’s drought-stricken Central Valley and a wealth of places in between. Reporting from remote coastlines and busy city streets, he follows today’s commercial pipeline from fisherman’s net to corporate seafood vendor to boutique marketplace. At stake is nothing less than an ancient livelihood. But salmon are more than food. They are game fish, wildlife spectacle, sacred totem, and inspiration—and their fate is largely in our hands. Cook introduces us to tribal fishermen handing down an age-old tradition, sport anglers seeking adventure and a renewed connection to the wild, and scientists and activists working tirelessly to restore salmon runs. In sharing their stories, Cook covers all sides of the debate: the legacy of overfishing and industrial development; the conflicts between fishermen, environmentalists, and Native Americans; the modern proliferation of fish hatcheries and farms; and the longstanding battle lines of science versus politics, wilderness versus civilization. This firsthand account—reminiscent of the work of John McPhee and Mark Kurlansky—is filled with the keen insights and observations of the best narrative writing. Cook offers an absorbing portrait of a remarkable fish and the many obstacles it faces, while taking readers on a fast-paced fishing trip through salmon country. Upstream is an essential look at the intersection of man, food, and nature. Advance praise for Upstream “Langdon Cook delivers a beautifully written portrait of the iconic salmon that blends history, biology, contentious politics, and the joy of fishing into a captivating and thought-provoking tale.”—Eric Jay Dolin, author of Brilliant Beacons “Salmon are the essence of the Pacific Northwest, and as Langdon Cook shows so powerfully, they are the key to its future. From the wild flats of Alaska’s Copper River to the straitjacketed creeks of California, Upstream captures the myriad ways people and salmon are deeply intertwined.”—Rowan Jacobsen, author of The Essential Oyster “In this fresh tale of an ancient wonder, Langdon Cook takes us on an inspired journey of discovery through the heart and soul of salmon country.”—David R. Montgomery, author of King of Fish and Growing a Revolution “Cook takes the reader on a thrilling adventure through the mountains, rivers, farmlands, and kitchens where progress, against all odds, is being made.”—Zeb Hogan, biologist and host of Nat Geo Wild’s Monster Fish
The button mushroom better make room on the shelf. We're seeing a growing number of supermarkets displaying types of mushrooms that are leaving shoppers scratching their heads. Home cooks are buying previously obscure species from growers and gatherers at local farmers markets and adventurous cooks are collecting all manners of edible mushrooms in the woods. People are asking the question, "Now that I have it, what do I do with it?" Home cooks and chefs alike will need a book and an educated guide to walk them through the basics of cooking everything from portobellos and morels to chanterelles and the increasingly available, maitake, oyster, and beech mushrooms. Shroom is that book and Chef Becky Selengut is that tour guide. In a voice that's informed, but friendly and down-to-earth, Selengut's Shroom is a book for anyone looking to add mushrooms to their diet, find new ways to use mushrooms as part of a diet trending towards less meat, or diversify their repertoire with mushroom-accented recipes inspired from Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisines, among others. Recipes include Maitake Tikka Masala, King Trumpet and Tomato Sandwiches with Spicy Mayo, and Hedgehog Mushrooms and Cheddar Grits with Fried eggs and Tabasco Honey. Written in a humorous voice, Becky Selengut guides the home cook through 15 species-specific chapters on mushroom cookery with the same levity and expertise she brought to the topic of sustainable seafood in her IACP-nominated 2011 book Good Fish. Selengut's wife and sommelier April Pogue once again teams up to provide wine pairings for each of the 75 recipes.

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