By Philippe Emanuelli
Philippe Emanuelli is co-founder of Café des Spores, a restaurant in Brussels, Belgium. Over the course of four seasons, Emanuelli developed recipes for every mushroom he could get his hands on. Over 100 of his recipes with the approval of his customers, along with the gorgeous full-page photography make up one of the most comprehensive mushroom cookbooks on the market. The book features the definition of the mushroom, its seasons, and nutritional composition. Also helpful are tips on how to clean, cut and prepare mushrooms for consumption.
About one-third of the book deals with wild mushrooms. I found it interesting that Emanuelli gives a stern warning at the very beginning of the book not to pick wild mushrooms but at the bottom of that same page, he gives tips for the wild mushroom hunt. For example, he advised the reader not to park her car in a known foraging site for fear you might come back to a flat tire. I had to laugh, but then again, I have never hunted wild mushrooms! The author also provides recipes for wild mushrooms that are safe to eat as well as ones for cultivated mushrooms.
One drawback of the book is that Emanuelli is cooking with many mushrooms that we do not have in our region. However, that can happen with any recipe that calls for mushrooms. I have used substitutions easily. The cookbook also includes a number of recipes for mushrooms that are readily available in the grocery store for a reasonable price: such as shiitake and button mushrooms. All in all, this is a curious and fascinating book, beautifully illustrated for those with a real hunger to learn more about mushrooms. And if you’re ever in Brussels, why not drop in to Café des Spores?