The Mushroom Hunters: On The Trail Of An Underground America

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The Mushroom Hunters: On The Trail Of An Underground America

by Langdon Cook

Random House Publishing Group | September 10, 2013 | Hardcover

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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

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 320 pages, 9.38 × 6.37 × 1.1 in

Published: September 10, 2013

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0345536258

ISBN - 13: 9780345536259

Found in: Healthy Cooking

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– More About This Product –

The Mushroom Hunters: On The Trail Of An Underground America

by Langdon Cook

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 320 pages, 9.38 × 6.37 × 1.1 in

Published: September 10, 2013

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0345536258

ISBN - 13: 9780345536259

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 Among the Recreationals ... My obsession with fungi arrived like a sickness. It con-  sumed me. In the immoderate manner I approach all new pursuits, I read just about every book, online treatise, and marginalia I could find. It seemed to me I had something of a knack for stumbling on good mushroom habitat. Maybe this was because of all the hiking and bushwhacking I had done over the years, or maybe it was my youthful crush on birds that gave me a facility with field characteristics. Driving along the highway near my Seattle home, I would catalog the woods I saw and try to imagine what species lived there. Mushrooms often fruit in connection with a specific type of tree. I studied and memorized these kinships. Initially my wife, Martha, was supportive of my new hobby. Soon, though, to her dismay, I was sneaking out at all hours to scout likely patches. I started bringing home what some might consider unreasonable quantities of fungi—pounds and pounds of chanterelles, shaggy manes, giant puffballs, the list goes on—first to eat fresh, and then in such numbers that I cobbled together a homemade dehydrator, bought a stand-up freezer, and even did some pickling in the Mediterranean tradition. The homemade dryer gave way to a dedicated store-bought model, and my map collection grew into an unwieldy binder full of tattered and footnoted quads. I took my compass and mushroom knife wherever I went, just in case. Ancient Egyptians called mushrooms “the
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From the Publisher

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

About the Author

Langdon Cook is the author of Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager, which The Seattle Times called “lyrical, practical and quixotic.” Cook has been profiled on the Travel Channel, in Bon Appetit, WSJ magazine, Whole Living, and Salon.com, and his writing has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Sunset, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and Outside. He is also a columnist for Seattle magazine and has been the recipient of many grants and awards. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.

Editorial Reviews

“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 w
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