Featured Non-Fiction Book from the Recreational Reading Collection
The recreational reading (McNaughton) collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase
Langdon Cook has got to be the ideal companion to have along on a backwoods-camping trip. The guy can forage and fish, he’s a wizard cook, he’s only a little reckless and, to judge by his new book “The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of Underground America” (Ballantine, 296 pp., $26), he’s terrific company — especially when sharing his passion for mushrooms. Like Susan Orlean in “The Orchid Thief,” Seattle author 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.
What excites Cook is not the very domesticated but the very wild, gnarly, phallic, smelly, hard-to-find but exquisite-to-eat fungi-like hedgehogs, morels, matsutakes, yellowfeet and truffles. Even the chanterelle — “an off-the-shelf French floozy Halloween costume” — is a touch common for Cook’s taste. And so he sets off into the damp fungal wild with a couple of colorful commercial foragers. Doug Carnell, the picker, is an Olympic Peninsula knockabout with a checkered past and an internal atlas of prime mushroom patches from the North Cascades to the Klamath Mountains. Jeremy Faber is a quick-talking, nimble-witted New York Jew who came to Seattle for the skiing and food scene, earned his chops at top-flight local restaurants (Ray’s Boathouse, Serafina, The Herbfarm), and then struck out on his own with a foraged-foods business. “It was one thing to grow a nice tomato or pepper at home,” Cook muses as he contemplates the wild bounty of our region, “quite another to uncover nature’s hidden garden deep within the folds of the misty mountain forests of the Pacific Northwest.” Review by David Laskin excerpted from the Seattle Times
Tags: Langdon Cook, The Mushroom Hunters