Photographs by Sarah Adams
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. From serendipitous discoveries while canoeing to habitual hikes with Piglet (in fact a terrier, not a truffle pig), her detailed accounts bring alive the sensory experience of the hunt, and the particular connection with nature that a forager enjoys.
Illustrated throughout with photos by Romanoff’s partner Sarah Adams—which are instructive and sometimes whimsical—Mushroom Foraging and Feasting will be a friendly primer for novice mushroom hunters and an unexpected delight for veteran mycophiles.
“Romanoff takes us on a romp through a primeval forest’s understory in search of edible mushrooms, providing recipes to heighten the fun of the hunt. Recounting her childhood as a WWII refugee hunting mushrooms for survival, along with her later adventures as a fine artist and historic preservationist, she provides an insightful and inspiring look into the indomitable spirit of both artist and survivor.” – Peggy Haines, well-known chronicler of the Finger Lakes’ food, wine, and cider scene
“What began in childhood as a way to survive the ravages of World War II, ends as a tribute to the woman who skilled her in the ways of “the magical, colorful and mystical underworld of the fungus.” Victoria Romanoff has given us a book that is not only delicious to the eye but teaches and feeds the spirit as well. Even if you’ve never given a thought to mushroom hunting, this book makes you want to grab a basket and walk confidently into the woods to begin your own learning experience with ‘shrooms. There is joy here, snippets of history, and like the simple mushroom itself, the recipes don’t require a special trip to the store.”– Sophie Hodorowicz Knab, author of The Polish Country Kitchen
“A lifetime of insight about foraging. An amazing story of growing up in the forest and enjoying all of her bounty. Coupled with classic preparations that I have been on the fortunate receiving end of and that continue after all these years to hold special places in our culinary hearts. This is a book of love and beauty that is to be cherished.” – Rick Rainey, Managing Partner of Forge Cellars, a nationally recognized, award-winning producer of Finger Lakes wines
“When teachers draw on their personal experience rather than recounting the works of others, they are so much more effective. In her book Mushroom Foraging and Feasting, Victoria Romanoff does that first-person storytelling in spades. And the result is just plain fun to read.” – George W. Hudler, professor emeritus, Cornell University, and author of Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds
“The author’s captivating stories had me hooked from the first page. With stunning photographs, clear identification tips, and must-try recipes. . . Well, soon I had to put the book down (briefly), grab my collecting gear, and head out into the field to gather some of my own fungi. This book will be treasured by both novice and experienced mushroom hunters.” – Leda Meredith, author of The Forager’s Feast and Northeast Foraging
“This lovely memoir not only characterizes some of our most delectable mushrooms—with recipes to boot—but something of the loveliness of the huntress herself. Mushroom hunting may be trending right now, but Victoria is proof it’s a passion that can last for a lifetime.” – Eugenia Bone, author of Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms