Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of Secrets, Eccentrics, and the American Dream” as Want to Read:
The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of Secrets, Eccentrics, and the American Dream
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of Secrets, Eccentrics, and the American Dream

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  612 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
In the tradition of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, and Mark Kurlansky’s Cod—a renowned culinary adventurer goes into the woods with the iconoclasts and outlaws who seek the world’s most coveted ingredient . . . and one of nature’s last truly wild foods: the uncultivated, uncontrollable mushroom.

Within the dark corners of America’s
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Mushroom Hunters, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Mushroom Hunters

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,766)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nov 22, 2013 Cynthia rated it really liked it
Mushroom mafia

Who would think that reading about scrounging for Mushrooms out in the forest would be not only educational and interesting but exciting? Cook's book reads like a treasure hunt with scrumptious recipes interspersed. It turns out that most mushrooms grow and are harvested from semi-isolated public lands where it's illegal to hunt and reap them. The result is a complex mushroom underground replete with hippies, ex-loggers, and people perpetually estranged from society and large group
Rebecca Lerner
Oct 23, 2013 Rebecca Lerner rated it it was amazing
“The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America" is Seattle forager-blogger Langdon Cook's second nonfiction narrative book on foraging in the Pacific Northwest. Readers may remember his first, “Fat of the Land,” a fun read about his adventures as a newbie foraging coastal foods, such as squid. Langdon’s new book is broader in scope, nuanced, and more journalistic than “Fat of the Land“; in an approach that recalls Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” he endeavors with elegant pr ...more
Jul 15, 2013 Darren rated it it was amazing
Here is a book that is hard to categorise as it is neither one thing or another. Essentially this is a non-fiction look into a relatively unknown world, the world of the (North American) mushroom forager.

The author has written this fairly thick book in a story-type narrative, weaving in the various elements to make it read like a fiction work, despite it being clearly centred on fact and a lot of research. It is a story of massive disparity and contrast. Wild mushrooms, truffles, morels or whate
Phil Tomson
Oct 20, 2013 Phil Tomson rated it it was amazing
Really liked this book. It's a fascinating look into the world of commercial mushroom pickers and buyers. I've done some recreational mushroom hunting myself, but I just can't imagine picking 50 to 100 lbs of mushrooms in a day as some of these folks do. Also surprised to find that it is almost a year-around profession which starts with the spring morel pick and goes into January with black trumpets and hedgehogs down in Northern California. These pickers travel around a lot as well chasing the ...more
Diane Lockward
Oct 06, 2013 Diane Lockward rated it it was amazing
I was thoroughly engaged by this book. My head is now filled with the names of wild mushrooms, the scents of mushroom dishes, and the lure of mushroom patches. I had no idea that a mushroom was so much more than a mushroom. I am hungry for mushrooms. You will be, too, during and after reading this book.
Oct 09, 2013 Huntleybrinkley rated it it was amazing
Okay, I really enjoyed this book. I don't know why I am drawn to books about food, but I found this book fascinating. I had never really thoiugt about where the mushrooms really came from, but the stories with Doug and Faber were quite interesting. I also just read the Telling Room about, at least peripherally, a famous cheese from Spain and it's excentric maker,,,I liked this book way better because it gave a full picture including a glimpse into the personal lives of the main characters withou ...more
Nov 02, 2013 Jill rated it really liked it
Very interesting non-fiction about the culture of mushroom hunters....foraging through the forests of the west. Surprising how much the culture sounds like the drug trade.

A very good read, with lots of interesting, colorful characters and the struggles to make ends meet in this crazy business.

I gave four stars because the book is just a bit too long. I would have liked it a bit shorter, and a few photos or illustrations would have helped. I never want pictures in my books, but with the variety
Paul Brannan
Apr 21, 2014 Paul Brannan rated it really liked it
If you go down to the woods today…the meth heads will have the catalytic converter off your SUV before you’ve plucked your first porcini.

The remote forest areas of Washington State, Oregon, California and Idaho are as scary as any you’ll find in story-book fables, but for those prepared to bear the risk there’s money in them thar hills.

For pickers it’s barely a living – just enough to keep the wolf from the door. Theirs is a world of relentlessly tough work, uncertain reward and a nomadic lifes
Nov 03, 2013 Kevin rated it liked it
Picked this one up on a whim thanks to my library's weekly "Hey look at what we just got in!" email. No idea why, just sounded entertaining. I was amused to see mention of the Joel Palmer House in Oregon where I personally first came to understand how delicious mushrooms could be.

Cook deftly uses evocative language and every few pages I found myself hungry even from his simple descriptions of how to treat the various fungi in the kitchen, not even full recipes or dishes. It's got to be hard to
Aug 30, 2014 Babs rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kim Ayre
Fascinating book on fungi foraging to meet the demands of clamoring chefs and finicky foodies. Quite an eye-opening adventure into the network that provides coveted mushroom varieties to high-end restaurants in Seattle and New York.

The book covers foraging from Northern California to the Yukon with a very interesting cast of characters. Taxonomy, geography, history and recipes thrown in for good measure.
May 07, 2014 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written, compelling book about the people who inhabit every class structure of the wild foods restaurant movement, from Cambodian, Laotian, Mexican and American born pickers to the top level fine restaurants on two coasts. It is a documentary of the lives, the wild foods and the subculture of mushroom hunters. This book will make you crave mushrooms and stay up late losing sleep while you're reading.
Mathew Carruthers
Mar 01, 2014 Mathew Carruthers rated it it was amazing
This was just a good book - well-written, thoughtful, entertaining, and informative. I've been a recreational mushroom hunter for most of my life and I learned a lot reading this book. This is part travel narrative and part love song to wild edibles. If you have any interest in wild mushrooms, learning about the commercial wild edibles industry, or travel in the more rugged and rustic parts of the Pacific northwest, then this is a good read for you. If you're not interested in those things, then ...more
K Brown
Sep 16, 2013 K Brown rated it it was amazing
This is a book for lovers of outlaws and outdoors, foodie cultists and quirky cultures. Very much in the tradition of Michael Pollan, but more than just another survey of mushroom hunters. The book is well-written with quality prose that brings you in touch with the moist, rugged places where mushrooms dwell. Several mycophiles from different aspects of the business are profiled with precision and caring honesty. It got me interested in finding out more about mushrooming and will be going to a f ...more
Mike Nettleton
Nov 17, 2014 Mike Nettleton rated it really liked it
I wish I researched and wrote this book. Tromping through forests, eating home-cooked and top restaurant meals, hanging with colorful characters. . .

And if I did write it, these are the minor tweaks I'd have made: less focus on the two main guides into the commercial mushroom foraging world and chapters arranged in a more orderly way (either by mushroom, guide, geographically, or seasonally are some ideas.) I think there was some sort of overarching organizing along one or more of those categori
Dec 23, 2014 Stephen rated it liked it
More an inquiry into the culture of mushroom foraging than into the biology or ecologies of mushrooms themselves, this is a phenomenal book for anyone interested in knowing where their food comes from -- presuming some of that food is foraged. Langdon Cook weaves a compelling narrative, primarily through recounting travels with two seasoned folks running what he calls "the Mushroom Trail." With one character, primarily a buyer and the other, primarily a seller, one gets a feel for the tensions i ...more
David Quinn
Dec 23, 2015 David Quinn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like mushrooms or have ever wondered how they end up on the menus of gourmet restaurants this book is a good choice. It’s uneven and I have some strong gripes but when it’s good, which is most of the time, it’s very, very good.

The author’s writing style is straightforward and approachable and he generally moves the stories along at a good pace. To me the best parts were when he journeys along with Doug Carnell (commercial circuit picker) and Jeremy Faber (buyer & picker). They’re both
May 23, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it
My family have been recreational mushroom hunters for decades. My mother-in-law thought this would be an interesting book as a recreational hunter. And it was. I had no idea of this underground business and have never been to a classy enough restaurant to get served wild mushrooms. The type my family picks we don't even know what kind they are. They look similar to matsutake and have a similar flavour to shiitake so my guess is they are of the same family. Even though we only pick to eat I feel ...more
Dec 08, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, even if I thought it didn't live up to its potential. Too much about mushrooms, not enough about the hunters and the hunt. The author is passionate about food and, it's true, is almost able to make the reader taste and smell the mushroom dishes he describes. But I would have gotten a cookbook if that's what I wanted to read. I wanted to get to know the men and women who really live in the shadowy, questionably legal world of fungi harvesting; instead I ended up reading mostl ...more
Brittany Kubes
Sep 01, 2014 Brittany Kubes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
While recently organizing my library, I was shocked to discover that non-fiction took up a large number of my books! I always consider myself a fiction specialist, but lately this has become less true. There is just something about a piece that READS like fiction but that details a true story, which is this added bonus, and certainly true of The Mushroom Hunters. The tales of Doug and Faber revealed a strange underworld of danger, thrill, and beauty that is the world of mushroom hunting. I loved ...more
Feb 16, 2014 Rhonda rated it really liked it
Have you ever thought about getting back to the land, whether in some sort of reverie or perhaps even in some some small way to minimize the plagues of modern food production? Oddly enough, while this book is about getting very much in touch with the land, it is both much more and much less about either: this is about hunting wild mushrooms. Without a doubt, mushrooms aren't something upon which one can subsist for food, but the intent of the book, whether intentionally or accidentally, is to re ...more
Dec 12, 2014 Colleen rated it it was amazing
Cook wrote an earlier book called 'The Orchid Hunters' which was equally interesting and also about an underground economy. This book explores mainly the West Coast of the US where several ethnic groups compete for edible mushrooms. The ex-lumberjacks/fishermen, SE Asians, and Mexican/Central Americans don't get to eat these mushrooms. They pick them to sell to middlemen who ship them to fancy restaurants where gourmet chefs add them to delicious dishes. Food porn. Sociology. And great descripti ...more
Apr 18, 2016 K rated it it was amazing
Surprisingly accurate to the essence of the PNW, beyond the intrigue of mushroom hunting is the insight into this underground culture. More of an anthropological narrative than a field guide.
The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America by Langdon Cook (Ballantine Books 2013)(579.6). Langdon Cook is a Seattle area blogger/forager who has learned enough mycology to be able to identify the fruiting bodies of edible mushrooms in the forest. Not satisfied with collecting for his table, Cook was able to make contact with the commercial gatherers and was shown the ways of those who collect and sell (often illegally) hundreds of pounds of valuable mushrooms for use in upscal ...more
Mar 05, 2015 Jeanne rated it really liked it
I love mushrooms, but I buy them off Safeway shelves. This book is about the people who find the more tempting and esoteric mushrooms that can only be found in very secret seasonal locations, which they protect vigorously, sometimes with guns. The author takes us on his journey while embedded in the community of mushroom finders and educates the mushroom novices (like me) on the finer epicurean delights of the most wonderful edible fungus that aren't generally on grocery shelves. For those of us ...more
Jun 16, 2015 Marlan rated it really liked it
Pretty cool book, with the author writing about his hangouts with the people that go out into the forests to pick wild mushrooms for a living, as well as with the buyers and others along the supply chain. The stories are great, and it's a fascinating look into a subculture I never even knew about. It was also really interesting to see the contrast between the casually liberal foodies of Seattle, Portland and New York on one side, and the oft harsh-living, very politically incorrect rural pickers ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Stephany rated it liked it
Great storytelling. I appreciate writers who take something right beneath our noses, show us we don't know anything about it, and then correct that - ideally in a "journey" format. Like so much else (cheap apparel, software that seems magical, container ships, sewage and plumbing, electricity), we take the quality and variety of food we enjoy for granted, blind to the army of somewhat shunned, low paid, unappreciated people who bring it to us. Cook introduces us to these people, fortunately, but ...more
Feb 19, 2014 Manuel rated it really liked it
I love food writing and behind-the-scenes accounts so this was a fun read for me. It’s packed with trivia about exotic mushrooms and their environs. The other fascinating part of the story is the people who pick the mushrooms. Immigrants and folks on the rough edges of society, picking for cash, busting ass to make ends meet.

For much of the book the author travels along with Jeremy Faber in mushroom buyer adventures along the West Coast of North America. Faber is the founder of Found and Foraged
Greg Gerot
Feb 10, 2015 Greg Gerot rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most unusual books I've ever read. Now reading for the 2nd time. The author really did his homework, living with and experiencing the life of those who pursue after the elusive mushroom for a living. It inspired me when it comes to outdoorsmanship and toughness. Made me want to get with the program and follow last year's burn this spring in search of the elusive morel. Lots of facts, great characters, especially Jerry Faber, and reads like a novel. Fascinating! One of the best ...more
Aug 17, 2015 KennyO rated it really liked it
I'm no forager but when Langdon Cook had a speaking engagement in our town [that sounds stilted enough, eh?] I went to hear him. I found myself in a SRO crowd of people, most with duff on their boots. Cook was interesting and his speech and Q&A and fungal photography were well received. On departing I bought The Mushroom Hunters in the lobby. His book reads the way Cook talks. He was easy to watch and hear at the program and it's a smooth segue to the book, which I find to be a relaxed, enjo ...more
Jul 31, 2014 Jenn rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
This book was interesting, but not great. Langdon Cook takes the reader into the subculture of mushroom gatherers, both those who do it as hobbyists and those that pick mushrooms and other wild edibles for a living. The material has the potential to be captivating, but his telling falls flat. In part, this is due to his superior attitude about the people he meets (even when he seems to genuinely like them) and cooking/eating well. All in all, if mushrooming is a topic that interests you, by all ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 58 59 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms
  • Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate
  • Dandelion Hunter: Foraging the Urban Wilderness
  • Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen
  • Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystique of Mushrooms
  • The Good Rain: Across Time & Terrain in the Pacific Northwest
  • Gardening at the Dragon's Gate: At Work in the Wild and Cultivated World
  • Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees
  • Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land
  • Cold Antler Farm: A Memoir of Growing Food and Celebrating Life on a Scrappy Six-Acre Homestead
  • Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide
  • The New Persian Kitchen
  • Thuggin In Miami (The Family Is Made : Part 1)
  • Storm Kings: America's First Tornado Chasers
  • Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast
  • Ina Coolbrith: The Bittersweet Song of California's First Poet Laureate
  • Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms
  • The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire
Langdon Cook is the author of The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America (Ballantine, 2013), which Publishers Weekly called "intrepid and inspired," and Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager (Mountaineers, 2009), which The Seattle Times called "lyrical, practical and quixotic." His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Terrain, Gray’s Sporti ...more
More about Langdon Cook...

Share This Book

“I had come to Boyne City because I have always been drawn to nature's secrets more than to, say Hollywood's secrets or the secrets of Wall Street hedge-fund managers. Nature is real. It exists beyond our ability to create it or even mediate it.” 1 likes
“If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows Where you are. You must let it find you. —DAVID WAGONER” 0 likes
More quotes…