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Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms [Hardcover]

Eugenia Bone
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 25 2011
An incredibly versatile cooking ingredient containing an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and possibly
cancer-fighting properties, mushrooms are among the most expensive and sought-after foods on the
planet. Yet when it comes to fungi, culinary uses are only the tip of the iceberg. Throughout history fungus has been prized for its diverse properties—medicinal, ecological, even recreational—and has
spawned its own quirky subculture dedicated to exploring the weird biology and celebrating the unique role it plays on earth. In Mycophilia, accomplished food writer and cookbook author Eugenia Bone examines the role of fungi as exotic delicacy, curative, poison, and hallucinogen, and ultimately discovers that a greater understanding of fungi is key to facing many challenges of the 21st century.
 
Engrossing, surprising, and packed with up-to-date science and cultural exploration, Mycophilia is part narrative and part primer for foodies, science buffs, environmental advocates, and anyone interested in learning a lot about one of the least understood and most curious organisms in nature.

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Review

"Mycophilia is the most engrossing, readable book about mushrooms and the science of mycology I have ever read. This is THE book to give to people interested in mushrooms, whether they are beginners, longtime mushroom hunters, or professional mycologists."

Gary Lincoff, author of The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms

"Engaging trawl through the labryinths of mycophilia...lyrical and precise...Ms. Bone ends her odyssey elegantly, discovering mushrooms may be the most important--and most hopeful--ingredient of life on Earth."

Wall Street Journal

 
"One of the most beguiling books I've read this year. A generous sprinkling of amateur photos only adds to the charm of "Mycophilia"...Weird details,combined with a flair for startling analogies, brighten even the most rambling passages of Bone's book...Set her on the hunt for fungi in the aftermath of a forest fire and Bone can make you shiver in the slovenly vacuum of a campsite she compres to a cold fireplace...Bone deployes the precise, uncommon vocabulary of the best naturalists. Bone's enthusiasm would prompt even the most languid armchair ecologist to take a new interest in...mushrooms...Each and every fungus contains properties that, as described by Bone, sound almost magical...Delicious, surprising and dizzyingly informative book."
 
New York Times Book Review
 

"Earthy and honest...with good humor and clear writing."

The Denver Post
 

"Mycophilia...will delight many readers...[Bone] makes a charming and witty tour guide through the vast world of fungi...Mycophilia is one of those books that can completely change the way we view the Earth, making us ever more conscious and even conscientious citizens."

The Plain Dealer

About the Author

EUGENIA BONE is an author and a food writer who has been featured in numerous national publications. She writes a blog on preserving foods for the Denver Post. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mushrooms Nov. 18 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I can only say that it would have been a lot more helpful and useful if the pictures were in color. The text is good.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  71 reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable romp in the fungal kingdom Oct. 12 2011
By E. Swope - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
In Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms noted food writer Eugenia Bones takes us along on her personal voyage of discovery in the mushroom realm and it's (mostly undergound) parent the fungal kingdom.

An unusual book, Mycophilia is a journal peppered with scientific information, folklore, gardening tips and the occasional bad pun, providing us with a window into the world of mushrooms and the cast of characters who hunt, cook, document, experiment, dye (and much more) with them. As I read I could not help but wonder at how little attention we collectively pay to an organism (neither plant nor animal) which makes up 25% of the planet's biomass, is among the earliest life forms and which is intricately intertwined with so many aspects of our existence. As she was instructed prior to embarking on a mushroom hunt (foray), one only need to stop and look.

It is a very well written and enjoyable read. Along the way I learned a great deal more than I had anticipated, not least of which is how little I have learned about this large and varied kingdom in 20+ years of science education. I was surprised to find that fewer than 5% of the species have been identified, described scientifically, and yet how many uses have been discovered and described for mushrooms. I found myself spouting mushroom facts at the dinner table which in turn has gotten my son more interested in science : I believe the things which grabbed his attentiu0on were: that there is a mushroom which tastes like maple syrup "let's grow them," and that if all of the spores from one of the more prolific species were to bloom at once, it would throw the planet out of orbit). I now know why the tomatoes in my carefully prepared raised bed are not doing as well as those in other parts of my garden (and also that I have to learn a good deal more to make use of that information). There is so much information here that I think she provides a touchstone for just about everyone; an entry intro the partially hidden parallel universe of fungus.

I so thoroughly enjoyed the book that I have gone looking for more books on mushrooms (there are quite a few) and more books by Eugenia Bones. It seems we share a passion for Italian cooking. I may well become a collector.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An idiosyncratic look at the fungal kingdom Nov. 22 2011
By Herblady22 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Eugenia Bone is fascinated by mushrooms, although not a hardcore mycologist. She likes the edible mushrooms as a cook and, recalling mushroom hunting trips as a child, set to learn more. From mushroom festivals to scientific study of the cancer fighting properties of medicinal mushrooms, she takes you on a broad journey through the fungal kingdom.

First, this is not a field guide. You will need a library of field guides as well as local experts if you wish to follow up her stories with real life experience. But even while not a field guide, I can only hope the actual edition has color plates and quality printing. I am reviewing an advance copy and the illustrations are abysmal.

Eugenia Bone has obviously been influenced by Paul Stamet's Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, a book I highly recommend to mushroom lovers, environmentalists and lovers of the quirky. While Stamet's has the depth of years of collecting, experimenting with and propagating mushrooms- indeed he is one of the leading experts on the subject- Boone is a fascinated amateur. I like her book, her enthusiasm and her ability to pick up interesting facts and her ability to make them understandable to mushroom newbies.

I have been collecting and cooking mushrooms for 30 years, but generally confine myself to polypores (mushrooms with pinholes underneath instead of gills) where it is easier to avoid poisonous mistakes. It is also the part of the mushroom kingdom where most of the medicinal mushrooms are found, and as a practitioner of Oriental Medicine I make use of those. I have maybe 30 books on mushrooms in addition to herbals that reference them. Still I found Mycophilia to be enjoyable and worth reading.
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK. Could have been so much better. Nov. 18 2011
By Malcolm C. Kronby - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Mycophilia" is part narrative and gossip, and part hard information, and altogether rather repetitious.

It defines many terms that are pretty obvious, and fails to define many technical terms that fall beyond the scope of my dictionaries. This book desperately needs a glossary.

The greatest flaw is the lack of meaningful illustrations in color. I appreciate that this is not meant to be a field guide to the mushrooms of North America, but the book's pictures are small, murky black-and-whites printed on the page stock, and a number of the pictures were, to my eye, simply incomprehensible.

Perhaps the idea was to hold down production costs, but in doing so, the result is unsatisfactory.

So the book is just OK, when it could have been superb.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eclectic, lively jaunt through the world of mushrooms Sept. 28 2011
By Jennifer Mo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Mycophilia is a hard-to-categorize blend of popular science, memoir, and travelogue, but here's what I think it really is: the story of one woman's love affair with all things mushroomy. And while I was expecting something maybe a little more focused and less gregarious, I enjoyed plunging into the strange world of mushrooms and mushroomers.

Just to be clear, Mycophilia is not a mushroom guide. It won't tell you how to avoid the poisonous ones or identify the edible ones. There are no recipes or color photos, and the grainy black and white photos that are there rarely add much. Instead, Eugenia Bone's growing interest in mycology and travels to different conferences, festivals, and farms form the basis of interesting, if eclectic, chapters that cover truffles, psychedelics, pro mushroom hunting, medicinal mushrooms, and even mushrooms as potential environmental heroes. The chapters stand well on their own and can be read out of order. (If anything, they can be just a little repetitive as several people are introduced more than once.) Read together, however, they drive in Bone's point that mushrooms are in, on, or affecting just about everything on this planet.

Accessible but not dumbed down, Mycophilia is perfect for the factoid-loving layperson. Although I have several books on mushrooms, Bone has an eye for quirky and fascinating facts that few others mention: the fungal parasites that turn their caterpillar and ant hosts into zombies and eventually fruit through their bodies, the truth about truffle oil, the fungus growing within Chernobyl, the possible link between fossil fuels and mushrooms.

Bone is a lively and slightly snarky narrator who isn't afraid to experiment on herself, often with entertaining results, as she attempts to grow oyster mushrooms, gather her first morels, trip out on shrooms, lose weight on the mushroom diet, and have a serious conversation with a renowned mycologist while both are in the hot springs, completely naked. There are a few stories that toe the TMI line, but overall, the book achieves a sprightly balance between memoir and fact.

Mycophilia is an enjoyable read that offers plenty of breadth, if not so much depth. I'm happy to add it to my other mushroom books, which include Greg Marley's more sober Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystique of Mushrooms, which identifies the four types of edible mushrooms that are hard to confuse with others, Gary Lincoff's National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (National Audubon Society Field Guides), and David Arora's quirky Mushrooms Demystified. Readers who already own several mushroom books will enjoy getting to 'meet' the authors in Mycophilia, as Eugenia Bone rubs shoulders with quite a few prominent mycologists over the course of the book. And if you're not already fascinated with mushrooms, Mycophilia's not a bad place to start cultivating a lifelong romance of your own.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mushroom hunting war stories... Dec 19 2011
By Serene Night - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thought this book would be more... Scientific and discuss mushrooms in general. Instead it has too much detail about the author's desire to eat wild mushrooms and the gathering and collecting of mushrooms, which really wasn't what I was looking for. It did not help that the writing style... Felt bland to me. It wasn't nearly as interesting to read tales of gathering wild mushrooms as I think the author thinks. Instead it felt a bit numbing. I guess if you're going to relate stories of gathering wild mushrooms, I would hope they'd be entertaining ones.

Perhaps if the mushroom gathering war stories were kept to simply a few choice ancedotes, I would've liked it more. As it was, the personal stuff felt like filler and detracted from my enjoyment of the book.
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