Book Reviews

The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire
by Gaylord Brewer

The Banquet of Donny & Ari: Scenes from the Opera
by Naomi Guttman

Cooked
by Michael Pollan

Revenge Baking
by Randon Billings Noble

Biting the Apple
by Jeanie Greensfelder

Best Food Writing 2014
edited by Holly Hughes

Creamy and Crunchy
by Jon Krampner

Biting through the Skin
by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Feeding Orchids to Slugs
by Ann Mah

Mastering the Art of French Eating
by Florencia Clifford

Ivan Ramen
by Ivan Ramen

Third Thursday Potluck Cookbook
by Nancy Vienneau

Mint Tea & Minarets
by Kitty Morse

Prospero’s Kitchen
by Diana Farr Louis and June Marino

Mushroom: A Global History
by Cynthia Bertelsen

One Straw Revolution
by Masanobu Fukuoka

Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie
by Peggy Wolff

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
by Annia Ciezadlo

unrest
by Chloe Yelena Miller

The Hungry Ear
by Kevin Young

Best Food Writing 2012
by Holly Hughes

Dinner: a Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach

My Kitchen Wars
by Betty Fussell

American Cookery
by Laura Kalpakian

Apron Anxiety
by Alyssa Shelasky

Cucina Povera
by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
by Laurie Colwin

The Social Life of Coffee
by Brian Cowan

The Raw and the Cooked
by Jim Harrison

Modernist Cuisine
by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet

Horsemen of the Esophagus
by Jason Fagone

Coffee Philosophy for Everyone
by Scott F. Parker and Michael W. Austin

Corked
by Kathryn Borel

Food Rules
by Michael Pollan

On Reading
by Rilke and Ruskin

America the Edible
by Adam Richman

Interview with the author of Party Girls,
Diane Goodman

Death Warmed Over
by Lisa Rogak

How to Cook a Crocodile
by Bonnie Lee Black

Great Food,
All Day Long

by Maya Angelou

Love Bites: Marital Skirmishes in the Kitchen
by Christopher Hirst

Best Food Writing 2011
edited by Holly Hughes

Balzac's Omelette
by Anka Muhlstein

The Little House Cookbook
by Barbara M. Walker

Muffins and Mayhem
by Suzanne Beecher

As Always, Julia:
The Letters of Julia Child and Avis De Voto

More...

Boozehound
by Jason Wilson

The Particular Sadness
of Lemon Cake

by Aimee Bender

The Bluberry Years
by Jim Minick

Livingston and the Tomato
by A. W. Livingston

Tomatoland
by Barry Estabrook

Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey
by Robert V. Camuto

Best Food Writing 2010 edited
by Holly Hughes

Curry
by Lizzie Collingham

Four Fish
by Paul Greenberg

The Physiology
of Taste

by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Far Flung
and Well Fed

by R. W. Apple, Jr.

The Food of a Younger Land
by Mark Kurlansky

The Dirty Life
by Kristin Kimball

Ratio
by Michael Ruhlman

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers
by Jessica Theroux

Blood, Bones & Butter
by Gabrielle Hamilton

Candyfreak
by Steve Almond

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book
by Alice B. Toklas

Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain

Appetite City
by William Grimes

Twain's Feast
by Andrew Beahrs

97 Orchard
by Jane Ziegelman

Born Round
by Frank Bruni

Cakewalk
by Kate Moses

Full English by
Tom Parker Bowles

Following Fish by
Samanth Subramanian

Eating Animals by
Jonathan Safran Foer

Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese
by Eric LeMay

For You, Mom. Finally
by Ruth Reichl

Farm City
by Novella Carpenter

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

I ♥ Macarons
by Hisako Ogita

The Hamburger
by Josh Ozersky

Best Food Writing 2009 edited
by Holly Hughes

Gastrology
by Archestratos

Eat, Memory edited by Amanda Hesser

Eat My Globe
by Simon Majumdar

Eating
by Jason Epstein

What We Eat When We Eat Alone
by Deborah Madison

The Sweet Life
in Paris

by David Lebovitz

Modern Spice
by Monica Bhide

Mushroom: A Global History

 

Cynthia Bertelsen is also our food-blog favorite for this month.

 

by Cynthia D. Bertelsen(
Reaktion Books, 2013
160 pages
ISBN: 978-1780231754

Review by Leo Racicot

When I was a kid, if our mother had put mushrooms in front of us for supper, my sister, Diane, and I, would have screamed and run from the table. The idea that anyone in their right mind would serve what science books taught us was "a fungus" and expect us to put it in our mouths revolted us. I hardly ever even ate cheese, so vile did that plastic-y slab seem to me.

Not that any such sporous monstrosity would have appeared on our plate. The 1950s American table did not allow for anything more exotic than hamburgers and mashed potatoes. Occasionally, a Sunday steak. Side dishes consisted of peas, carrots, green beans, corn. That was it. I was a picky eater, to be sure. Ma had a hard time getting me to try anything beyond my beloved peanut butter.

But how life can transform an unadventurous palate! When a Polish friend, Jolanta Strojek, shared stories of her family's mushroom hunts, escapades into the fields and forests outside her native Krakow—her folks were poor and often had to make do with whatever they could forage from the woodlands and river banks of an impoverished nation—I showed interest enough that she brought me on a foraging excursion to the woods behind her home. I had a ball. The joy of the hunt was in me, made even more exhilarating when Jola lit a happy match under a pot of our booty on the stove, turning the mushrooms into one of the most delicious, smoky soups I have ever tasted. Its aromas intoxicated me. Some hearty dark rye bread, homemade, to soak up the rich, musky, brown juices, and I was all set!

Charmoon Richardson, too, the still-renowned Sonoma mushroomer, regaled friend, M.F.K. Fisher, and her house guests with gentle, loving tales of his mushroom hunts amid the deep, dark, velvet forest-floors of Northern California. He once whipped us up a mushroom chowder that I have never gotten over. Charmoon's love of the humble fungus so keenly captured me that mushrooms are the first item I look for when planning a special or a holiday meal.

Add now, please, to my personal duo of mushroom revellers the name of food aficionado, author, and photographer, Cynthia Bertelsen. I spent several deluxe days in the company of her wonderful, colorful new Mushroom: A Global History, and can't say enough good things about it. In a cavalcade of stunning photos and prose, Bertelsen accomplishes the near-impossible: she makes us fall in love with the homely spore. Columns of color, buttons of surprise and delight, each mushroom cap is as individual as a snowflake or a human face. Their humble umbrellas beckon us to come find them and serve them forth. Bertelsen delivers a command performance from start-to-finish.

We realize how marvelous it can be, foraging in Indian moccasins down a cool pine path, and suddenly spot one! Ruby red, sunny yellow, emerald-pretty sitting in a hidden nest just begging to be picked. Here, the whole golden world of mushrooms is laid out before us, a treasure chest of history and folklore, knowledge and astonishment. Bertelsen magically turns what could have been an arcane investigation into an intimate and involved roundelay of mushroom facts and fictions, as well as mushroom recipes you’ll want to try yourself.

There’s also a ravishment of images here, each one more indelibly striking than the last, most of them taken by the author. (An accomplished photographer herself, Berteksen has a marvelous blog you’ll want to be sure to visit: Gherkins & Tomatoes.) This book makes me hungry. The lids of the meaty, musky toadstools dare us to cook and eat them. Pop one in your mouth and your tastebuds will know joy! O, Tremendousness! That the gods themselves (and Bertelsen) have blessed us with such gustatory pleasure!