There is something intriguing about wandering the woods after the rains and discovering all the mushrooms and fungi that have sprung as if from no-where. I have always been that mother, who is all about the great outdoors, but please don’t touch the mushrooms. Mushrooms are potentially lethal, and pretty as they are… they have been a very much you can “look but you can’t touch” item. So in order to over-come this we recently went on a mini-adventure with a friend of ours, a friend who really knows his mushrooms, in order to learn about what is good to eat and what isn’t.
A Field Guide to Mushrooms and Other Fungi in South Africa
The thing is, we received this fabulous book to review and decided that it was really time to get to know our local mushrooms better… a lot better.
- This book is richly illustrated, not just with beautiful photography, but with diagrams as well – to explain the special features of so many of the mushrooms.
- The introduction is packed with useful information, especially for folk like us, who have a lot to learn. There is a useful glossary and an index of scientific and common names.
- It is a very practical book, a handbook indeed, with tips on how to make your own spore prints, which is something that we hadn’t done before. Also, there is a whole section with tips about foraging, and their first tip, “to apprentice yourself to an experienced and knowledgeable forager or mycology expert,” we took to heart.
- There is a very useful table, called “The Morphological Groups of Fungi Table” which is basically a well photographed contents page, that allows you to turn immediately to the correct section of the book, for taking a closer look and discovering the facts behind the fungi that you have discovered.
- Each type of mushroom gets a double page spread, with several full colour photographs on it, which really helps with identification. The Latin names and Etymology, as well as common names and Afrikaans names are included. The ecology, distribution and habitat and a very detailed description are included, as well as the names of similar species for cross-referencing. And for my young foragers… the edibility or toxicity of each mushroom is included as well.
- The book even includes a spread with easy recipes, so as to make use of the mushrooms you have foraged. Easy recipes that any collector could make… for rich and creamy mushroom soup, pasta with wild mushrooms and garlic, mushroom bourguignon, marinated wild mushrooms as well as one of our family favourites: Garlic Mushroom Kebabs.
- This book is an absolute spectacular overview at least 200 of the most spectacular and colourful species of fungi and mushrooms from all over South Africa… we were blown away by the beauty and variety… this book is definitely one we will be tossing into our backpacks, whenever we go on a woodland hike in the future.
We Went on a Mushroom Walk…
Just a few steps away from the urban fringe, you can go exploring on the slopes of Table Mountain…
And beneath the pine trees were so many of these…
And here they are in the guide book…
After we gathered them and took them home we washed them and clean in warm water, fried them up with cream and pasta and a little bacon to help the folk who are nervous to try something new… and delicious dinner was served.
The Vibrant Variety
I know that a walk through the forests on the slopes of Table Mountain can provide an incredible variety of mushrooms, but did not expect in the small area that we visited to discover just so very many different kinds of mushrooms… armed with our guide book and very knowledgeable friend we were good to go… we were blown away by the prettiness and magic of it all. Not to mention that some of these are deadly poisonous, some are edible and some are inedible… important facts for beginner foragers.
Click on the Image to see More Photos From Our Walk
The book is available at leading book stores and also on Amazon, if you click on the affiliate link image below, you can take a look at the book more closely.
This book was given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa and Struik Nature. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.