Mushroom lovers rejoice! This December a new cookbook showcasing the inventive home recipes of mushroom enthusiasts from around the country will be hitting the shelves. Fantastic Fungi Community Cookbook was compiled and edited by food writer and mushroom obsessive Eugenia Bone, who also contributed several recipes and educational essays to the book.
The idea to create this community cookbook was born out of the idea to provide a mushroom cooking resource to accompany the eponymous documentary by Louie Schwartzberg. While there’s no shortage of mushroom-centric cookbooks, Bone was inspired to create something different by tapping into the community that rallied around the documentary to create a cookbook that represented the diversity of fungi and those who forage for them.
Of the recipes in community cookbooks like this one, Bone says, “there is an honesty and unpretentiousness about them. The recipes tend to be tried-and-true dishes that people actually make for dinner.”
If you don’t consider yourself a diehard fungi fan that’s okay too! One of the best things about Fantastic Fungi is the enthusiasm that exudes from every page. Even a mushroom moderate like me, will find a recipe that excites curiosity.
That might have something to do with the magic that comes from discovering and learning about mushrooms. Bone says she’s never taken someone out mushroom hunting for the first time and had them not want to do it again.
“The sort of secret life of the forest is suddenly opened up for you,” she told me. “Where you saw no mushrooms, one minute, all of a sudden the veil is lifted, pattern recognition sets in, and you see mushrooms everywhere.”
While you might not be foraging for your own mushrooms, this cookbook does reveal how mushrooms can make their way into every part of your diet. If it’s a classic you’re after, there’s everything from a Mushroom and Prosciutto Frittata to Farfalle with Black Trumpets and Gorgonzola Sauce. Craving something a little more out of the box? Then the Turkey Breast Roulade With Sous Vide Porcini, Candy Cap Eclairs with Reishi Chocolate Glaze or Golden Chanterelle Infused Vodka might be for you.
Instructions for all of these dishes and more are divided expertly into six chapters. In the first, mushrooms are the main stars of the dishes. Each subsequent chapter pairs mushrooms “with” something; mushrooms with meat, mushrooms with fish, mushroom soups, pasta and rice.
In the essays that precede each chapter, Bone answers essential questions like: Should you wash mushrooms? (Yes, you should.) And how best to freeze mushrooms? (Sauté them first). Most importantly though, her essays are about understanding fungi for what they truly are. First and foremost, they are not vegetables. And second, they are extremely versatile. Understanding these two points is crucial to understanding how to cook them.
Bone compares cooking with mushrooms to learning the process of canning fruit. “One of the things that I'm absolutely adamant about,” she says, “ is that if you understand why you have to do something, it's much easier to negotiate whatever kind of weird situation turns up.”
In other words, if you have a basic foundation for understanding mushrooms you can better control how to fix a problem in a recipe or how to come up with your own method for cooking them.
“A part of being able to appreciate mushrooms is being able to cook them well,” she says. Lucky for us Fantastic Fungi is packed with knowledge from the best teachers: a community passionate about mushrooms.