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on December 23, 2012
This book was originally published in 1975 and I have owned a copy for at least 35 years. It's been an indispensible source of mushroom-related recipes and mushroom information and inspiration. Soups, sauces, entrees. Anything that includes a mushroom as an ingredient is fair game. The recipes are mostly, but not exclusively French or in the French style. There are recipes from all over Europe (e.g. Risotto Al Funghi).

There are also anecdotes of mushroom culinary history and the book includes copies of quite old recipes from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. For me, it has been as fun to read to cook from. The author even quotes from the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook! If you love mushrooms, this book is really indispensible. It's been a great help on my personal culinary journey. However it is not a mushroom field guide.
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on February 9, 2004
A collection of French wild mushroom recipes by British cooking writer Jane Grigson. This book is an excellent source of recipes and inspiration for the use of wild mushrooms, for chefs and experienced home cooks alike. The book has over 200 recipes for wild and domesticated mushrooms of all kinds, both as a main part of the dish and as an accompaniment to meat, fish, and fowl. Particularly useful is a section at the beginning covering some 20 species of mushrooms, describing the unique culinary properties of each and listing the recipes that would suit them best. I particularly like the fact that this book covers not only the "usual suspects", that is, cultivated agaricus, porcini, chanterelles, morels, truffles, etc, but also covers less well-known wild mushrooms like fairy-ring mushrooms, blewitts, grisettes, russulas, etc.
The recipes in "The Mushroom Feast" bear the unmistakable stamp of pre-nouvelle French haute-cuisine (though the book also has a whole chapter of Asian-inspired recipes as well). This has its good and bad sides - good in the sense that the mushrooms are used in in the context of tasty "gourmet" European cooking that I find does justice to the intense flavor of wild mushrooms, but not so good in the sense that it often calls for sauces that are richer in butter, cream, and roux than they need to be. However, with a basic knowledge of sauce-making technique, one can easily turn these into simple reduction sauces that don't overpower the rest of the ingredients.
Some of the editorial reviews mention that this book is a useful guide to distinguish edible and poisonous mushrooms. This book is not, in fact, useful as a field guide and inexperienced persons who go out and gather mushrooms for the table using this book as their only guide do so at their peril! If you are going to be cooking with the mushrooms in this book, one first needs to get some experience in identification of wild mushrooms, or stick with the wild mushrooms you can buy from your local gourmet grocery or farmers' market.
All in all, this is a book that belongs on the shelf of anybody who likes to cook with wild mushrooms.
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