Victoria Romanoff picked her first mushroom—a brown-capped butterpilz or sticky bun—at the age of four, at her family’s summer dacha on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Little did she realize that her newfound interest in mushrooming would soon become an essential survival skill, as she and her mother spent eight years in displaced persons camps in the aftermath of World War II, foraging wild foods to supplement their diets. Resettled in the United States, Romanoff has continued to pursue her mycological passion ever since, deploying her considerable culinary skills to convert friends and strangers to the joys of wild mushrooms. Now, in this marvelously written book, rich with anecdote, she shares the wisdom gathered from a lifetime on the hunt.
Romanoff introduces readers to twelve of the most easily foraged and delicious mushrooms, including the chanterelle, the morel, and the oyster. She describes the appearance, habits, and lore of each variety, and provides a recipe for each; her recipes include both refined kitchen creations and rustic dishes meant to be prepared over an open fire at the end of a successful hunt. Romanoff also shares personal stories from her eight decades of mushrooming. Detailed accounts of several of her most memorable excursions bring alive the sensory experience of the hunt, which offers a unique experience of nature as well as a culinary reward.
Illustrated throughout with Romanoff’s own color photos—which are instructive and sometimes whimsical—these Mushroom Memoirs will be a friendly primer for novice mushroom hunters and an unexpected delight for veteran mycophiles.