CA Mushrooms
CA Mushrooms

Book Review


By Régis Marcon
2014, Published by Motta 24 ORE Cultura, Milan
Language: Italian
ISBN-10: 8866482056;
ISBN-13: 978-8866482055
415 pp.; 11.4 x 8.9 x 1.6 inches
(Out of Print)

It’s unlikely you will find this book at your local bricks and mortar bookstore in North America. But thankfully, you can order it online (as noted above) and the prices I’ve seen, if true, are an absolute steal for a book of this quality. I have a lot of mushroom books: guide books, desk references, photography, including many books devoted to cooking. I thought I had them all. That is until I happened to spy this huge tome on a shelf in Florence, Italy on a recent trip. I thumbed through the pages, spellbound. Simply, this book is far and away the most beautiful mushroom book I’ve ever seen.

You know how most guidebooks, and even many reference books are arranged: the mushrooms are placed in some order, most often by spore color, with descriptions, including edibility (often), and photos. Then at the end there are some recipes and cooking tips; usually it’s much the same recipes from book to book. Not so this Italian masterpiece. Leave it to the Italians to take something so humble as the mushroom—growths emerging from beneath the debris on the forest floor—and to create edible art. Yes, that’s what this book is: edible art. You can almost smell the dishes, the photography is so wonderful!

Yes, it’s in Italian. But the text is light. And mostly recipes—indeed, pretty simple ones. You can figure them out. (As a big help, try any of the online translation websites; there are apps for smartphones that translate as you move your device over text. It’s like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie!) Even if you have no motivation to translate the text, the book is about 50% photos and would be treasured as a coffee table book.

The book is very well organized. The cover notes: 65 types of mushrooms, 140 techniques, and 100 recipes. Thus this “guidebook” covers descriptions to 65 mushrooms in the front part—mostly species you would be familiar with in North America (although many that we do not commonly collect for the table like Clitocybe odora, Gomphidius, and many Lactarius and Laccaria species). Several commercially-cultivated species are included here; shiitake and button mushrooms, of course, but popular cultivated mushrooms found in Italy that you may not be familiar with like pioppino (Agrocybe). The next section covers 140 techniques, mostly having to do with cleaning, trimming, and slicing to make most presentable. This section relies on very little text and mostly images. This section alone is worth the purchase price. And the final section rounds out the book with 100 recipes and 100 glorious images of the final preparation. This section follows the natural hierarchy of cookbook recipes, beginning with appetizers, soups, salads, antipasta, then pasta and grains, meat and fish dishes, and desserts. The last pages of the recipes describe how to preserve mushrooms, make sauces, ketchups, oils, pickles, etc.

If you know someone that is wild about wild mushrooms, this book is a must have!

— Review by Britt Bunyard
— Originally published in Fungi