Like many people I think the idea of picking food growing naturally from my local surroundings is a great idea. I do worry though. What if I pick the wrong thing and poison my family? Especially fungi. I recently attended a free talk on foraging and found it really inspirational. It helped me realise that with some research and common sense I should be pretty safe. This book is my first step towards picking and consuming some mushrooms found locally. Ten years ago I’d have laughed if you said I’d be doing this. The only mushrooms I’d ever had were tasteless button mushrooms that squeaked as I bit in to them. It wasn’t until my wife cooked me some chestnut mushrooms that my eyes were open to some of the amazingly interesting flavours available from mushrooms.
The most important part of this book is the first page and it can be distilled into a pearl of wisdom. Do not eat ANY foraged foods unless you are COMPLETELY sure what it is. It then goes on to mention the key indicators and show you pictures of the various shapes and textures of things such as the caps, stems, gills.
The most useful section of this this book is the pictorial index of all the mushrooms covered in the book. The ones to avoid is a very good touch that helped calm my nerves. The main pages of this index give you clear images of things that you could be looking at and the page number to obtain more information on your specimen. I was able to successfully identify a couple of mushrooms growing in my garden using this book and I intend to cut and dry them tonight.
This book also shows you how to dry mushrooms and has some tasty recipes that could incorporate your finds. They could just as easily be used with dried mushrooms or a selection from your local supermarket.
There is a philosophy that runs through the writing of this book and that is to take only what you need and to leave things as you found them as much as possible. Be quiet, calm and respectful of your natural surroundings.