In his book, Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares, mushroom aficionado, Greg Marley, shares his enthusiasm and knowledge of mushrooms in order to spread information and an appreciation for mushrooms to a broader audience. The book is a series of short essays on a variety of topics regarding mushrooms and begins by trying to dispel the fear of the fungi that many North Americans hold. Using personal anecdotes, poems, proverbs, and scientific data, he explores their natural history, ecology, edibility, toxicity, role in history, collection, cultivation in the home garden, and more. Especially rewarding is his presentation of the “Foolproof Four” (morels, puffballs, sulphur mushrooms/polypore, shaggy mane). For each group Marley discusses the taxonomy, appearance, look-alikes, ecology, habitat, occurrence, possible problems, edibility, preparation, and preservation with one or more recipes that highlight the flavor and texture. Other essays give similar information about Chanterelles, Boletus edulis (aka porcini mushrooms) and Agaricus spp (button mushrooms,) with two or more recipes for each. Additional essay are devoted to poisonous mushrooms like the death cap and destroying angels, both from the genus Amanita, false morels, and angel wings, while another group of essays treats hallucinogenic fungi. Final essays consider honey mushrooms, fairy rings, luminescent fungi, truffles, decay in the forest, and growing fungi in the home garden. An appendix provides resources for further study.
Marley provides a wealth of information about mushrooms ranging from folksy to scientific so contains material that has appeal to a wide audience. It is NOT a field guide to mushrooms and can not be used for safe positive identification. Rather it gives a wide spectrum of facts that may spur an interest in mushrooms including collecting and eating them. Eight pages of photographs of mushroom are located together about 2/3 of the way into the book and are not nearly enough considering the beauty and diversity of mushrooms. Because the book is a collection of essays readers do not have to begin at the beginning and read to the end although not doing so would be a mistake as all of the essays add up to a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
To buy Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares from Amazon.com click here.