Cruising Cuisine by Kay Pastorius, htmlz, 0070487030

  • Full Title : Cruising Cuisine: Fresh Food from the Galley
  • Autor: Kay Pastorius
  • Print Length: 230 pages
  • Publisher: International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; 1 edition
  • Publication Date: 
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0070487030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0070487031
  • Download File Format: htmlz


The simple and exciting recipes in Cruising Cuisine–everything from crowd-pleasing appetizers to tempting sauces and sinful desserts–are fresh, modern, healthful, and tailored to save cruisers time, energy, and effort. Here are more than 450 recipes for all gastronomical persuasions: Pear Crepes, Apple Pancakes, Porcini Mushroom Dip, Conch Fritters, Curried Rock Scallops, Basque-Style Chicken and Sausage, Orzo with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Stir-Fried Thai Chicken in Coconut Sauce. All are far removed from the crunchy-granola, freeze-dried, “open a can of this and add it to a can of that” school of boat cooking.

Kay Pastorius lays out numerous techniques around which the cruising chef can improvise, using what’s on hand. She offers tips on how to set up and customize a galley: Did you know, for example, that a wok is ideal for cooking aboard because it makes economic use of whichever heat source you use? And she provides advice on how to stock provisions and deal with supermarket-separation syndrome: how to use fresh ingredients to supplement onboard staples; how to cook your catch; and how to shop for fresh (and safe) local produce, meat, and fish wherever you drop anchor, even in the markets typical of popular cruising stops in Mexico, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific.


From the Back Cover

Let’s face it. To the uninitiated, the confined and often animated galley of a cruising boat lends itself to creating such less-than-mouthwatering delicacies as canned beef stew served over a bed of reheated noodles. After all, there’s no storage space, very little in the way of modern appliances, and limited, if any, refrigeration.

Cruising Cuisine will put a flavorful end to all that. Longtime cruiser and chef Kay Pastorius offers everything a cook needs to know to adapt to the very different world of cooking at sea, in strange ports of call, or in deserted anchorages far from supermarkets.

Far more than a collection of recipes, Cruising Cuisine is filled with advice on mastering fine cooking techniques guaranteed to produce delicacies everyone on board will relish.

The simple and exciting recipes in Cruising Cuisine–everything from crowd-pleasing appetizers to tempting sauces and sinful desserts–are fresh, modern, healthful, and tailored to save cruisers time, energy, and effort. Here are more than 450 recipes for all gastronomical persuasions: Pear Crepes, Apple Pancakes, Porcini Mushroom Dip, Conch Fritters, Curried Rock Scallops, Basque-Style Chicken and Sausage, Orzo with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Stir-Fried Thai Chicken in Coconut Sauce. All are far removed from the crunchy-granola, freeze-dried, “open a can of this and add it to a can of that” school of boat cooking.

Kay Pastorius lays out numerous techniques around which the cruising chef can improvise, using what’s on hand. She offers tips on how to set up and customize a galley: Did you know, for example, that a wok is ideal for cooking aboard because it makes economic use of whichever heat source you use? And she provides advice on how to stock provisions and deal with supermarket-separation syndrome: how to use fresh ingredients to supplement onboard staples; how to cook your catch; and how to shop for fresh (and safe) local produce, meat, and fish wherever you drop anchor, even in the markets typical of popular cruising stops in Mexico, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific.

Here’s everything you need to know to create and enjoy fresh, flavorful, and healthful cuisine aboard, with more than 450 time-tested, palate-pleasing recipes.

“This collection of mouthwatering meals–tailor-made for easy onboard preparation–will delight cruising connoisseurs everywhere. With invaluable sections on provisioning, preservation, preparation, and equipment selection, Cruising Cuisine is a cut above the usual ‘cruising cookbook.’ It could well become the Joy of Cooking for cruisers.”–Lynda Morris Childress, Managing Editor, Cruising World

About the Author

Kay Pastorius owned and operated San Diego’s School of International Cuisine for 20 years. In 1987, she and her husband, Hal, whose drawings adorn Cruising Cuisine, moved aboard a 32-foot Bayliner and began cruising. Since 1992, Kay has written a cooking column for Sea magazine. Kay, whose cruising experience includes coastal Turkey and Thailand, recently completed an extended cruise of Baja California, Central America, the Panama Canal, and the Caribbean, aboard her yacht SpiceSea.



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gar, and salt. They can be drizzled onto cooked greens, added to soups, or blended into sauces. You can smear lacto-fermented plums onto cooked meats, or use the juice to dress raw seafood. And homemade ferments, packed into glass jars, make for unique and impressive gifts. Once you integrate these ingredients into your cooking, your eating life is going to be irreversibly better.

David Zilber started working with us the same year we built the fermentation lab. He came to us as a cook from Canada, and started in the restaurant as a chef de partie. When Lars and Arielle were leaving Noma in 2016, I was a bit distraught that we’d have to find someone to take over their work in the lab. But our head chef at the time, Dan Giusti, said we wouldn’t have to look far. We installed David as the head of the fermentation lab, and it’s been a perfect fit. He has an incredibly quick mind and an insatiable curiosity. He understands the science underlying fermentation, and brings a line cook’s work ethic to its practice. If you ask him something he doesn’t know the answer to, rest assured he’ll be completely educated about it the next time you talk to him. He’s like a machine designed specifically to write this book with me.

And it’s important to me that this book exist. It’s important that we document the good work that people have done here. But I’m most excited by the prospect of people taking that work and applying it outside the restaurant. We’ve written books before, but none where the main goal was to translate what we do in the restaurant to a home kitchen. It’s exhilarating to think that people all around the world will be able to get a sense for how we cook at Noma.

That’s the only possible next step for what we’ve been working on this past decade. Restaurants have influenced what’s sold on grocery store shelves. They’ve invigorated tourism in regions like ours, where people would never have thought to come eat before. The next phase is more education and more cooking—people connecting what we do at top-level restaurants with their everyday lives. That’s how we can create a completely new culture of eating.

At this point, the rate of discovery in the fermentation lab has slowed. We continue to adapt techniques to different ingredients, and some ferments remain less explored than others, but we’re not stumbling into eye-opening new products at the same pace. When you’ve made garums (ancient fish sauces you’ll learn all about later) from every type of seafood in Scandinavia, and they’ve all been good, it becomes difficult to identify the nuances. By putting this knowledge out there, we’re hoping that not only will readers experience the same joy of discovery as we have, but that we’ll get something out of it, too. We hope this will spur on the field. Perhaps one of you will take what you’ve learned here and come up with something completely new. If we’re lucky, that will come back to Noma and bolster us.

I believe in fermentation wholeheartedly, not only as a way to unlock flavors, but also as a way of making food that feels good to eat. People argue over the correlation between fermented foods and an active gut health. But there’s no denying that I personally feel better eating a diet full of fermented products. When I was growing up, eating at the best restaurants meant feeling sick and full for days, because supposedly everything tasty had to be fatty, salty, and sugary. I dream about the restaurants of the future, where you go not just for an injection of new flavors and experiences, but for something that’s really positive for your mind and body.

Sea Snail Broth, Noma, 2018

The broth is made by braising sea snails in an oil made from dried koji, then combining the cooking liquid with seaweed stock and more oil. It’s served in the shell, garnished with pickled herbs.

I hope this book can be a launching pad for home cooks and restaurant cooks alike. When we think of our ideal readers, David and I talk equally about the parent who’s passionate about cooking for his or her family and doesn’t mind a weekend project, as well as the professional cook or sous-chef who can read between the lines and pull out novel ideas.

Studying the science and history of fermentation, learning to do it ourselves, adapting it to local ingredients, and cooking with the results changed everything at Noma. Once you’ve done the same and have these incredible products at your disposal—whether it’s lacto-fermented fruit, barley miso, koji, or a roasted chicken wing garum—cooking gets easier while your food becomes more complex, nuanced, and delicious.

About This Book

There are thousands of products of fermentation, from beer and wine to cheese to kimchi to soy sauce. They’re all dramatically different creations, of course, but they’re unified by the same basic process. Microbes—bacteria, molds, yeasts, or a combination thereof—break down or convert the molecules in food, producing new flavors as a result. Take lacto-fermented pickles, for instance, where bacteria consume sugar and generate lactic acid, souring the vegetables and the brine in which they sit, simultaneously preserving them and rendering them more delicious. Cascades of secondary reactions contribute layers of flavors and aromas that didn’t exist in the original, unfermented product. The best ferments still retain much of their original character, whether that’s a touch of residual sweetness in a carrot vinegar or the floral perfume of wild roses in a rose kombucha, while simultaneously being transformed into something entirely new.

This book is a comprehensive tour of the ferments we employ at Noma, but it is by no means an encyclopedic guide to all the various directions you can take fermentation. It is limited to seven types of fermentation that have become indispensable to our kitchen: lactic acid fermentation, kombucha, vinegar, koji, miso, shoyu, and garum. It also covers “black” fruits and vegetables, which aren’t technically products of fermentation but share a lot in common as far as how they’re made and used in our kitchen.

Notably absent from this book are investigations of alcoholic fermentation and charcuterie, dairy, and bread. (Bread could take up—and deserves—its own separate discussion.) While we dabble with the fermentation of sugar into alcohol, it is almost always en route to something else, like vinegar. We’ve always worked closely with incredible winemakers and brewers and cannot pretend to be masters of their domain. Charcuterie is something that has not yet played a large role in our menus, though over the coming years we intend to dive deeper into fermenting meats as we celebrate the game season each fall. While we do make cheese at the restaurant, it’s often served fresh and unfermented (though we’re no strangers to yogurt and crème fraîche). Whenever we have cooked with artisanal aged cheeses, we’ve left their production in the hands of Scandinavia’s amazing dairy farmers.

Each chapter tackles one ferment, providing some historical context and an exploration of the scientific mechanisms at work. Many of the ideas and microbial players behind different ferments are interconnected, so you’ll see some concepts revisited and developed over the course of the book. For example, in order to make shoyu, miso, and garum, you’ll first need to understand how to make koji, a delicious mold grown on cooked grains and harnessed for its powerful enzymes. That being said, you should feel free to dive in wherever your interests lead you. You’ll still get a thorough understanding of each ferment without reading the rest of the book.

Included with each chapter is an in-depth base recipe, where we put ideas to work and walk you through the steps of making a representative example of each style of ferment. In most cases, there’s no single “right” way, so the recipes are written with multiple methods and possible pitfalls in mind. We go into quite a bit of detail—more than you may need in some instances—but we want you to feel as comfortable making these ferments as one of our own chefs would be if tasked with making one for the first time. Even though it may require a little patience and commitment, you can and absolutely should produce your own shoyus and misos and garums. Once you taste the rewards of your effort, it’s hard to imagine cooking without them. Plus, it all gets easier the second time around.

After you’ve read the in-depth base recipe for a ferment, you may feel ready to apply the same process to other ingredients, but to give you some inspiration, each chapter also contains several variations, which may illuminate other facets of the same technique. In some cases, these variations diverge in method from the base recipe, but rest assured, we’ll detail these changes and explain why we’re making them.

Finally, following each recipe, you’ll see a few practical applications for the ferment in your day-to-day cooking—many of which are inspired by preparations we make at Noma. Think of them as things that a cook from Noma would make for dinner at home using the ferments in the book. We’ve written these short recipes in a more informal manner, taking a cue from the naturalist Euell Gibbons, who wrote beautifully about foraging—another preoccupation of ours. In his book Stalking the Wild Asparagus, Gibbons details how to identify and harvest wild plants, and then provides recipes in a fluid, conversational format—suggesting rather than prescribing what to do with the incredible ingredients you can find outdoors. It’s the same approach we’re trying to take here. We don’t go into step-by-step detail when it comes to how you can employ the ferments in this book, because the specifics aren’t nearly as important as the possibilities. Even if you don’t feel up to making your own ferments, you’ll still find all manner of new uses for store-bought versions.

Roasted Bon
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beckoned to my confused heart, promising to satisfy that desire to create order amidst chaos, that feeling of belonging, of mattering… it led to my creating my blog (, on which I chronicled both the things happening in my life and the food that I was making. That, in turn, led to a cooking-variety show on YouTube of the same name and, finally, a chance at winning my own show on Food Network. Which I did. Which brought me to this moment, typing this to you. All because of the deep, healing power of food.

Pretty extraordinary what food can do, huh?

I no longer wonder why I am here, why God made me. It was under my nose the whole time. I thought journalism was the vehicle that would help me touch people, would help me be touched by them, to jointly punch some light into the darkness (my mantra), and yet it has been through food that I’ve had the most extraordinary moments of connection in my life. The e-mails, the comments on Facebook, the long, deep hugs after a cooking demo… I could never have dreamed such a life lay ahead of me all those years ago when I sat under the tree in my backyard here in L.A., wailing at the Lord to rescue me from the feelings of utter worthlessness that threatened to drown me completely.

And so, even beyond my hope that this book will help embolden you in the kitchen, help you stare down that once-daunting spice rack with all the steely aplomb of a modern-day John Wayne, my real prayer is that if you are struggling with those feelings—if you wonder about your true purpose, if you question that there is Someone out there who cares about you and has a plan for you—my hope is that you can hear my story, you can hear the joy in my voice, the joy that for so long wasn’t there, and know that YES, there is a reason you are here, and it’s for a purpose that no one else could ever fulfill but you! Be encouraged, dear heart. The purpose could be right under your nose, just like that fistful of red onions was under mine oh so long ago. So, take my hand. Wait for it. Waaaaait for it. Okay, NOW! Mum’s not looking! Grab those onions and let’s go!



I totally get it. All those spices, some whose aromas invite you in, others that turn your nose away faster than the Road Runner when he sees Wile E. Coyote. Plus, how do you actually pronounce them? Is it too-mur-ick? Or term-a-rick? Kew-min? Or koo-min?

And will you ever actually use enough of them to justify buying an entire jar?

Not to worry. Believe it or not, just because I was brought up in an Indian home, doesn’t mean I didn’t harbor your exact concerns. There was a time when the assortment of spices listed in every Indian recipe read like some kind of Matrix code to me, and Neo I was not.

Think of the following list as a guide, the first step in cracking the Indian cooking cipher. Read through the list to familiarize yourself, but don’t go rushing out to buy everything at once. Thumb through the recipes, and make what appeals to you. Soon, you’ll start to see which spices go together, in what ratios, and eventually, you’ll start experimenting by adding them to your own tried-and-true recipes. Before you know it, you’ll be scraping out the last dregs from that jar of turmeric! (I can’t promise you’ll be able to dodge bullets like Keanu did, but I think you’ll still feel like a badass.)

Before we get started, I KNOW THIS LOOKS LIKE A LOT. You don’t need all of these to get started. I’ll start with the essentials. The other stuff is bonus material, some of which you might have already.

Okay? Let’s go.


If you’ve procured yourself a masala dabba, that round, stainless-steel spice box that practically every Indian mother owns, you’ll probably find that it has seven cups. Here’s how I fill mine:


Oh, golden nectar. Scent of earth, warmth of summer. Turmeric is the quintessential Indian spice, and if you don’t think you’ve ever had it before, take a close look at the ingredients on that bottle of yellow mustard. Where’d you think that distinctive sunny hue came from? Derived from a rhizome that looks much like ginger, turmeric is bright orange when fresh, ochre when dried. We use it as much for its color as for its flavor. At first sniff, turmeric may crinkle your nose. But introduce it to some warm oil, and watch it sing. Turmeric breathes warmth into your dish, along with a gentle snap of mustard and a bit of loaminess reminiscent of the soil through which that little root once spread her limbs. When I was growing up, turmeric wasn’t just used in cooking. Mum would dissolve a little in warm milk to help us sleep, use it as an antiseptic on small cuts and wounds, even as an ingredient in face masks to soothe troubled and uneven skin (if you’re fair-skinned, I wouldn’t recommend this, unless you’re into having yellow skin for a day!). We can’t live without it. And nor should you! Oh, and I pronounce it TERM-a-rick. Too-mur-ick just sounds weird to me.


Cumin, that fine, slender seed bursting with nutty, smoky flavor, has ardent fans around the world: from Mexico to the Mediterranean, from the Middle East to the Subcontinent. In fact, this spice is so beloved and essential to our palates that it’s even mentioned in the Old Testament! (“Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin,” Isaiah 28:27. The verse used the spices to show that even though we sometimes need a little discipline in order to discard our shells, God never overdoes it, or gives us more than we can handle. Cool, huh?) There are actually three varieties of cumin: amber, white and black (which in Hindi we call kala jeera). While Indians do use the black version, for our purposes we’ll use the amber variety since that is the most widely sold. I’m guessing that you probably have some ground cumin in your pantry, but might I suggest you buy the seeds instead? That way you can use the cumin in two ways: freshly ground (much more potent flavor) or whole, sizzled in oil with some onions. Mmm. That is the beginning of a great dish. I pronounce it KEW-min.


I think of coriander as the refined lady of the spice box. Each tiny, round, tan-colored seed contains a captivating fragrance, a mild mélange of lemon verbena, grass and caraway. Indeed the lady was so favored that she was even found in ancient Egyptian tombs! However, she is a bit of a Tennessee Williams character in that she’s a “delicate flower” (said with a Southern drawl). Ground coriander goes stale very quickly, within a couple of weeks; it’s as if the very air she breathes sucks all the fragrance out of her! I used to wonder why I bothered using the spice until one day, I ground the seeds fresh. Poof! What an aroma! That’s why I urge you to buy the whole seeds instead of the ground stuff. You don’t have to grind it fresh every time (although that really is the best); you can grind small batches. Just don’t let the ground seeds sit for more than a month. Coriander seeds are the fruit of the cilantro plant, but even if you’re not a cilantrophile, you’ll like the gentle floral quality of coriander, which shares very few scents and flavor notes with fresh cilantro leaves. Cumin and coriander go hand in hand in Indian cooking. I like to use them in the following ratio: two parts coriander to one part cumin. Coriander also has thickening qualities, so it gives curries and gravies a lovely texture.


Traditional Indian recipes often call for “red chile powder,” a bright red spice that’s quite hot. Since that’s hard to find across this country, I substitute sweet paprika for color, then add some red chile flakes or cayenne pepper for heat. You could also try using semi-sweet or semi-hot paprika if you like your food to rate somewhere higher on the Scoville unit chart! Smoked paprika (pimentón) is not recommended because its distinctive smokiness is too overpowering.


I go through phases with these two; sometimes I like the smoky, immediate heat of red chile flakes (crushed red chile skins and seeds), other times I like the more nuanced, slow build of cayenne pepper (ground red chile). Choose whichever one you like. I generally don’t like things too spicy, so I’ve written my recipes accordingly. But if you’re not into spicy food at all, you can nix this one from your dabba.


Mustard seed is one of my favorite spices because it so reminds me of South Indian cooking, the food of my childhood; the fact that Jesus also mentions it in the New Testament as a measure of how little faith you need in order to accomplish the “impossible” also makes it one of my favorites (’cos Lord knows how my faith wavers!). Mustard seeds come in three colors: white (or yellow), brown and black. You might be more accustomed to the white ones, which are larger in size, but less pungent. The brown and black ones are much smaller, but they pack a punch! While we do use them in their ground form occasionally, you’ll most often see mustard seeds used in their whole form: Sizzled in hot oil until they pop, they lend a warm nuttiness to a dish. Yellow mustard seeds are not a good substitute, since they don’t pack the kind of flavor punch that the brown or black ones do.


Literally “warm spice mix,” garam masala (GUH-rum ma-SAA-lah) is an indispensable spice in Indian cooking. It doesn’t increase the heat of a dish, but it does infuse it with warmth; think of pumpkin pie spice and you’ll be walking in the direction of garam masala. Recipes vary but they usually involve a blend of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and black pepper; every cook’s is different and tailored to that person’s taste (my mum only uses cinnamon and cloves). If you’re in a hurry or if you’re just starting on your Indian cooking odyssey, then the store-bought version is fine. Here’s my two cents, though: You have no idea how long the store-bought variety has been sitting on the shelf, so it may taste like sawdust. Plus, since these warm spices are often a little more expensive, the store-bought versions of garam masala are often packed with cheaper “filler” spices like cumin and coriander, which muddy garam masala’s sweet heavenly aroma. So, I’d gently suggest that you make your own. The difference is staggering. Here’s my recipe.



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Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus) WG


Throughout North America, people gather and eat certain species of edible wild mushrooms with which they are familiar. In many cases, such knowledge of edible fungi is a folk phenomenon, based upon information handed down from generation to generation. European and Asian ancestry is especially responsible for this practical familiarity.

Most mycophagists, or people who eat wild mushrooms, are familiar with only a few edible species. Some people know about morels, others collect boletes, and some enjoy the Giant Puffball. But this folk knowledge is very limiting. Most people are skeptical of the idea that a large number of mushroom species can be easily identified and safely eaten. They have, in the great melting pot of the New World, inherited mycophobia—the fear of mushrooms—that is typical of Anglo-Saxon heritage. Wild mushrooms have a reputation for being mostly poisonous, and the common perception is that the edibles are nearly impossible to safely identify.

To some extent, these perspectives are valid. There are many poisonous species of mushrooms, and some are potentially life-threatening. It is also true that many mushrooms are difficult to correctly identify. Beyond these facts, though, is an important point: dozens of common delicious edible wild mushrooms can be identified very easily, even by beginners. That is the reason for this book.

Fear of mushrooms must be waning somewhat because the number of people interested in edible wild fungi is soaring. Local and regional mushroom clubs’ membership rosters are swelling with novices whose primary interest is in identifying edible wild mushrooms. The information explosion of the last decade made many people aware of such wild gourmet mushrooms as chanterelles, morels, boletes, and puffballs.

Ironically, some experienced mycologists—people who study fungi—are nervous about encouraging beginners. Many novices are too self-confident, too dependent upon color pictures for identifying species, simply too anxious to pick something and eat it. In the face of carelessness, accidents happen, and no one wants to be blamed.

The rule governing edibility of any food you identify is simple: eat nothing unless you’re absolutely sure it is safe. When people find out about our interest in eating wild mushrooms, they invariably ask, “How can you tell which are edible and which are poisonous?” The answer is a simple analogy. How do we know that frog legs are edible and toad legs aren’t? We read, we learn, we study; in short, we educate ourselves about such things, thereby gaining cumulative knowledge of the subject. There is usually a follow-up question: “Aren’t you afraid of making a mistake and poisoning yourself?” The answer is no, and the frog-and-toad analogy works again: until you can tell a frog from a toad, don’t catch your own frogs for dinner.

For the person who wishes to learn how to identify and prepare edible wild mushrooms, starting out can be difficult. The problem is that most field guides are not primarily oriented toward edible mushrooms. They present long, detailed descriptions of mushrooms, often using an extensive vocabulary of terms peculiar to botany or mycology. This book is intentionally different. It is specifically designed to help the beginner identify and prepare the most commonly eaten wild mushrooms of North America. Experienced mycophagists can also use this book to increase the number of edible species they can identify with confidence.


This book is the product of a great deal of work by many people besides the authors. Our special thanks go to Arleen Rainis Bessette, who spent months collecting wild mushrooms and using them to create dozens of wonderful new recipes for this book. She also arranged and composed most of the recipe photographs, contributed several photographs, and read the manuscript and made numerous helpful suggestions. Dr. Barry L. Wulff, Dr. Paul F. Lehmann, and Stephen Rains also reviewed the manuscript; their comments, suggestions, and criticisms improved this work immeasurably. Dr. Joseph F. Ammirati critiqued the section on mushroom toxins; we are grateful for his expert assistance. Several individuals contributed photographs: we thank David Arora; Dr. Timothy J. Baroni; Jack Billman; John F. Connor, Jr.; Warren Greene; Emily Johnson; Gary H. Lincoff; Dr. Orson K. Miller, Jr.; Susan Mitchell; Kit Scates-Barnhart; Joy Spurr; Dr. Walter J. Sundberg; and Steve Trudell. The outstanding illustrations throughout this book were created by Philippa Brown. We greatly appreciate the many wonderful recipes contributed by numerous fungal gourmets. Joe and Laura Bess, Leisa Fischer, George and Rose Fischer, Maura G. Howe, Richard and Jean Howe, and Marian Martin deserve special thanks for their support and encouragement. Both of us are grateful to the members of the Mid York and Central New York Mycological societies and the North American and Rochester Area Mycological associations for their support and enthusiasm. Bill Chapman and Sally Reymers kindly helped in the selection of specimen photographs. Finally, we thank the entire staff at the University of Texas Press. The quality of design and photographic reproduction evident in this book are only the most visible characteristics attesting to their high standards.



Fungi ben mussheroms; there be two manners of them, one maner is deedley and slayeth them that eateth them and be called tode stoles, and the other doeth not.


Some of the finest foods in the world are free for the picking, and the truly poisonous ones are few, but one must learn to be discriminating.


Young, tender Dryad’s Saddles lurk in the shadows of fallen logs.


An Introduction to the Mushroom

What Is a Mushroom?

For many years, mushrooms and other fungi were classified as members of the Plant Kingdom. More recently, they have been placed in their own kingdom, the Fungi Kingdom. This seems only fair: mushrooms and other fungi lack chlorophyll, and their reproductive systems are wholly different from those of plants.

It is important to understand that mushrooms are simply the equivalent of fruit, bearing the microscopic spores that are the fungal equivalent of seeds. In other words, mushrooms are the reproductive structures of fungi. The fungus “body” is called the mycelium. It consists of a network of microscopic threads called hyphae. The mycelium is typically hidden in the food source (the substrate) from which it absorbs nutrients.

In terms of nutritional requirements there are three groups of mushroom-producing fungi. The first group is the saprobes, those fungi that receive nourishment by breaking down dead organic matter such as leaves, wood, feces, or humus. The second group is the parasites, which steal nutrients from living trees, plants, animals, or other fungi, weakening or killing their hosts in the process. The third group is the mycorrhizal fungi. These are essentially symbiotic fungi that receive much of their nourishment from the roots of trees or other plants. They benefit their host species by breaking down some nutrients into forms that are more easily utilized by the hosts and by increasing water and mineral absorption.

When conditions are favorable, a fundamental change occurs in the mycelium. It greatly increases its absorption of water and begins to form the complex structure we call a mushroom. Each mushroom grows rapidly, pushing its way out from the substrate to produce and release spores, thus perpetuating the species.

Some fungi require highly specialized habitats in order to exist—for example, the roots of a certain kind of tree, a certain climate, a certain type of soil. Others are more adaptable and, as a rule, more common. Some are short-lived, deriving nourishment from their substrates for only a few months. Others are perennial, some living for as long as several centuries.

Mushrooms and Taste

Those who are unacquainted with the tremendous variety of edible mushrooms often ask, “Don’t they all taste pretty much the same? If I don’t like the store-bought variety of mushrooms, why bother with the others?”

The answer takes the form of an analogy. Just because someone dislikes figs and beets doesn’t mean he or she dislikes all fruits and vegetables. Different mushrooms have different flavors, different textures, and different aromas. It can be said that most mushrooms have a “mushroomy” flavor, but it can also be said that most fruits taste fruity and that most meats taste meaty.

Because most people aren’t used to eating a variety of mushrooms, they tend to be more aware of the common flavor components of mushrooms than is the case with meats, fruits, vegetables, or other kinds of food. Most mushroom fanciers are convinced that there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t like at least some kinds of mushrooms, if only the opportunity existed to try a variety of different ones.

This belief has been corroborated by personal experience. Those of us who have opened the minds—and mouths—of some of our most skeptical friends and relatives have enjoyed their surprised smiles when they tasted their first morel or their first slice of a puffball. Of course, not everyone likes every kind of mushroom. Even between enthusiasts there are differences of opinion on the culinary value of some of the edible mushrooms covered by this book. Taste is perhaps the most individual of the five senses. Therefore, in addition to our own preferences, we have considered opinions from a number of print and personal sources before deciding which species to include. Some people don’t like sushi, or peanut butter, or prunes; some people won’t like chanterelles, or morels, or puffballs. You will have to find out for yourself which edible wild mushrooms you like and which, if any, you don’t.

Mycophobia remains a problem as a psychological factor: it is very difficult to enjoy anything you fear. Many people are profoundly afraid of eating wild mushrooms. Do not press the issue with such individuals.

Mushrooms may never play as big a dietary role in North America as they do in other parts of the world, but for those who enjoy trying different kinds of food, the Fungi Kingdom holds a vast array of gastronomic delights. For many, wild mushrooms are a whole new kind of food, and—with few exceptions—they won’t be found in the produce section of the supermarket. They’re free, lying scattered across the North American landscape. Find them, and enjoy them.

Mushrooms and Nutrition

For those who are trying to control their weight, mushrooms are an ideal food. They please the palate while minimizing calories. It has been suggested that we can eat all the mushrooms we want and still lose weight, because it takes more calories to digest mushrooms than they provide. Mushrooms are truly low-calorie delights: the common cultivated Agaricus button mushroom has only thirty calories per one hundred grams, mostly in the form of protein! Mushrooms’ fat and carbohydrate levels are negligible, and they contain no cholesterol.

These nutritional benefits become insignificant, of course, if the mushrooms are fried in butter or oil and then served with cheese or other fattening foods. Preserving the “light” nature of the mushroom requires simple cooking techniques, such as baking or broiling.

Almost no information is available on the nutritional value of various kinds of wild mushrooms. We can only presume that there is at least some variation from species to species. As a rule, though, mushrooms are composed of about 90 percent water. They contribute some protein; B, C, and D vitamins; and several minerals. They are low in fat, carbohydrates, and calories.

Use of wild mushrooms as food likely dates back to prehistoric man. Hunter-gatherer societies probably tried various kinds of wild mushrooms and, through trial and error, learned which kinds to eat and which to avoid. One of the earliest documentations of the use of wild mushrooms as food dates back to the Greek and Roman cultures of about 400 B.C. Classical Roman literature contains many references to mycophagy. Ancient Romans considered some species to be such wonderful delicacies that they dubbed them food for the gods. One edible Amanita species is still commonly called Caesar’s Mushroom.

Mushrooms hold out no hope as a solution to the world’s hunger problems, but they do provide promise to those who want to enjoy a variety of delicious, healthy, natural foods.

Fresh Golden Chanterelles and White Matsutakes displayed alongside cultivated mushrooms at Pike Place Market in Seattle. ARB


Fundamentals of the Hunt

What to Take

Experienced mushroom foragers use a variety of tools and supplies, depending on what kind of mushrooms they hope to find, the terrain, weather, and other factors. The following is a list of the items that are most often helpful:

A sharp knife for cutting mushrooms free from wood, and for slicing specimens to check for insect larvae. Some mushroom hunters prefer a jackknife; others a hunting knife with a sheath. A good knife can also be used for field dressing species you already know. Morels and chanterelles, for example, usually need no further trimming at home.

A soft-bristled brush for brushing away any insects, soil, or plant debris from your mushrooms. You can buy a mushroom brush, but a pastry brush is a suitable substitute.

A large flat-bottomed wicker basket with an arc-shaped handle to help prevent specimens from being crushed.

Waxed paper for wrapping different species to keep them separated in the basket. Waxed paper sandwich bags are ideal. Leave them open to permit some air circulation. Plastic bags should not be used because they contribute to rapid spoilage. Small brown paper lunch bags will suffice.

A note pad or index cards, and a pencil. When you collect a new kind of mushroom, make notes about its habitat and growth habit—what are nearby tree or plant species? Is it growing on wood or on the ground? Are specimens clustered or scattered?—and use them to double-check your identification when you get home. Keep each note with the corresponding specimens. Also, don’t use a pen. Pencils are far more reliable in damp weather.

A walking stick. Always a good idea for the hiker, a sturdy walking stick is also useful for discreetly poking around in fallen leaves.

A field guide to trees. Many edible mushrooms are associated with specific kinds of trees. Knowing how to identify trees is a definite advantage for the mushroom hunter.

Bug repellant. Habitat and s


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