Mushrooming: The Joy of the Quiet Hunt – An Illustrated Guide to the Fascinating, the Delicious, the Deadly and the Strange by Diane Borsato, With Illustrations by Kelsey Oseid

Mushrooms for medicine, mushrooms for edibles, mushrooms for recreation. Such a versatile organism can not only hasten our demise if a toxic species are ingested, but can also ensure we are consumed in the most environmentally friendly means upon burial. Diane Borsato explores a variety of species one may come across while foraging, providing a description with delightful illustrative renderings by Kelsey Oseid, as well as helpful tips as to whether toxic dopplegangers exist. Texture, smells, tastes, and edibility are included for each mushroom.

“Borsato encourages you to look closer behind that stump, between the blades of grass, and follow that smell as it could lead to the magical world of exotic fungi.”

While the book does not go into detail on delectable recipes for the edible kinds, you can treat it as a handy reference post-forage and pre “should or shouldn’t I eat/get high off this” decision making. At present, this is not exactly a pocket book, nor should it be treated as such. You want to take time to enjoy the illustrations as you compare your forest finds, whether via pictures you’ve taken or actual additions to your basket. Personally, given the number of poisonous dopplegangers that exist and my own inexperience as a mushroom hunter, I’d rather leave this exercise up to the mycologist experts. I have sufficient faith in the porcini mushroom risotto chefs and micro-dose golden teacher chocolate bar artisans of the west coast to handle these decisions.

However, as I do live in rainforest territory, it’s great to keep this book in my library to refer to after my autumn and winter hikes. I’m more a fan of capturing photos of these vibrant yet silent creatures who occupy the most unseemly places, of dankness and rot, fanning out their beauty to anyone who takes the time to notice. Borsato encourages you to look closer behind that stump, between the blades of grass, and follow that smell as it could lead to the magical world of exotic fungi.

Aside from popular and sought after varieties such as chanterelles and black truffles, you can learn about unsavoury species such as “Dog’s Vomit Slime Mould” and “Satan’s Bolete”. Also included is a handy list of mushrooming guides, websites, art, and even a “manifesto” for engaging in mushroom culture.

Diane Borsato is an artist, naturalist and educator. She is an associate professor of Experimental Studio at the University of Guelph. She has exhibited her work involving mushrooms, bees, raptors, orchards and tea in galleries and museums around the world and was the co-editor and a contributor to the book Outdoor School: Contemporary Environmental Art (D&M, 2021). She lives in Toronto, ON.

Kelsey Oseid is an illustrator, author and amateur naturalist based in Minneapolis, MN. Her gouache illustrations focus on natural history subjects like taxonomy, biodiversity and taxidermy, as well as related subjects like astronomy and the ways humans connect to the natural world. She is the author and illustrator of three books with Ten Speed Press.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Douglas & McIntyre (Sept. 10 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771623373
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1771623377

Mala Rai is a poet, drummer, psychology student, and technical writing hired gun on the West Coast. Her most recent poems have appeared in Eclectica Magazine, High Shelf Press, and Anti-Heroin Chic. You can follow her on Instagram @malaraipoetry