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A Global History

 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 beliefs.
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 and includes 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.

160 pages | 40 color plates, 20 halftones | 4 3/4 x 7 3/4 | © 2013


Food and Gastronomy

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“A very readable and wide-ranging work. . . . The whole is nicely illustrated, mainly in colour. . . . If you know a serious mushroom cook, and would like a birthday present to extend their mycological background, this elegantly presented and delightful little book would be spot-on!”

IMA Fungus

“I spent several deluxe days in the company of her wonderful, colorful new Mushroom: A Global History, and can’t say enough good things about it. In a cavalcade of stunning photos and prose, Bertelsen accomplishes the near-impossible: she makes us fall in love with the homely spore . . . Bertelsen delivers a command performance from start-to-finish . . . Here, the whole golden world of mushrooms is laid out before us, a treasure chest of history and folklore, knowledge and astonishment. Bertelsen magically turns what could have been an arcane investigation into an intimate and involved roundelay of mushroom facts and fictions, as well as mushroom recipes you’ll want to try yourself.”

Alimentum Journal

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Importance of Being Mushroom

1  Anatomy of the Mushroom

2  The Quiet Hunt: Mushroom Foraging

3  Take Ye Fair Mushrooms: Cooking

4  Preservation

5  Nutrition, Medicine and Religion

6  Cultivation

7  A Mushrooming Future

How to Grow a Mushroom

Among the Mushrooms: The Major Players


Select Bibliography

Websites and Associations


Photo Acknowledgements


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