CA Mushrooms
CA Mushrooms

Book Review

Untamed Mushrooms: From Field to Table

By Michael Karns, Dennis Becker, & Lisa Golden Schroeder
2018, Minnesota Historical Society Press
ISBN: 9781681340869
Paperback; 316 pages; 8x10 inches
150 color photos,100 recipes

The most beautiful mushroom themed cookbook ever produced in North America is now available! I swooned the moment I opened my copy of the brand new Untamed Mushrooms. When you think of wild mushroom foraging, and cookery, your first thoughts likely go to the Pacific Northwest and indeed, up to now, most mushroom cookbooks have come from this region. So it’s high time the Midwest was represented. And it turns out that the wait was worth it, as this book is spectacular. Kathy Yerich, vice president of the Minnesota Mycological Society and North American Mycological Association, and co-author of Mushrooms of the Upper Midwest calls Untamed Mushrooms “a love letter to the woodlands and seasons of the Midwest and its food traditions, old and new. This book offers an elegant answer to the familiar foraging question: ‘What is this and can I eat it?’ by presenting a meticulous account of a baker’s dozen of the most desirable and easy to identify edible mushrooms. Hunting mushrooms is profoundly seasonal, and so are the lovingly collected and exquisitely photographed recipes in this book.”

I concur. But should you live and forage outside of the Midwest don’t pass over this title. You have chanterelles, morels, and lobster mushrooms etc. in your region. And no matter, as other mushrooms will work with these recipes, many of them timeless classics but with added flare; some are new takes; all of them pretty easy to pull off. Not a cook? Not a problem. This book easily could be the most gorgeous coffee table book in your home. (I suspect that even if you are not a cook, this book will motivate you to try your hand with a few dishes!)

Old traditions of foraging have seen a passionate resurgence of interest among midwestern chefs and home cooks intrigued by the vitality of foods growing just footsteps—or a healthy hike—from their doors. But many hesitate over collecting wild mushrooms: How do you know which ones are okay to eat? And once you do, how should you prepare them? Untamed Mushrooms is sort of two books in one, arranged to answer these two questions. The first section of the book briefly discusses, in turn, each of 13 major groups of edible wild mushrooms (e.g., oysters, boletes, morels, chanterelles) with great photos and info on how to recognize and know each. The second part dishes up the recipes— more than 100—nicely arranged by season. There are meat recipes of course, but all dishes are vegetable-heavy for those (like me) who enjoy a wide assortment of tastes and textures. Once you’ve arrived home with your woodland bounty, try grilled lake trout with a mess of morels, roasted corn soup with mushroom duxelles, prairie wheat berry salad with roasted mushrooms and chioggia beets, pork tenderloin with black trumpet sorghum and ground cherry salsa, game hens with creamy maitake pasta, or porcini-dusted chicken with wild mushroom farrotto. And there is an excellent section on preserving your wild mushrooms, and what to do with them in the off-season.

Accept this official invitation to begin your own mushroom stalking adventures … and get ready for some seriously delicious eating!

— Review by Britt Bunyard
— Originally published in Fungi