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The Mushroom Feast
Jane Grigson is one of Britain’s most celebrated food writers. Her untimely death in 1990 left a big gap in
food journalism. Her legacy is a list of amazing books and daughter
Sophie who has taken up the baton of culinary education in fine fashion.
The Mushroom Feast was originally published in 1975 but perhaps it’s
more pertinent today than when it first graced bookshop shelves. The
only mushrooms readily available in the 70’s were the cultivated, round
and regular sorts found in supermarkets. Things have moved apace in the
fungi world and now there is an amazing variety of mushrooms in
greengrocery aisles all over the UK.
Jane was lucky to live in France for many years and was able to take
advantage of local know-how when it came to such passtimes as wine
making and mushroom hunting. France has a long tradition of wild
mushroom collecting and chemists run a “spot the deadly mushroom”
service. Not sure what kind of advice you would get from Boots on the
high street but it’s likely to be “think you want Waitrose mate”.
Eating your own freshly collected mushrooms isn’t as chancy as you
might think. There are relatively few that will kill you outright but
there are a number that will give you a nasty tummy upset and you
wouldn’t want that. Best thing is to collect with an expert... or a
doctor. I’ll stick to shop-bought.
There isn’t much you can do with a mushroom that you won’t find in this
volume. Jane was as thorough in her research for The Mushroom Feast as
she was for her other books. She starts with Preserved Mushrooms and
progresses through main dishes to mushrooms as side dishes for fish,
poultry and meat. There is a chapter on Japanese and Chinese use of
mushrooms which hints at our contemporary love of the Shiitake.
The recipes have a French bias as you would expect but there are nods
to other culinary traditions as well. Smoked Haddock Kulebiaka is a pie
of fish, rice and mushrooms and is a winner for a smart lunch. Jane
also offers a salmon version with which I am more familiar and I
believe is more authentic.
Mushroom Ketchup is a condiment appreciated by the English since the
days of Mrs. Beeton. This sauce imparts an almost meaty quality to
dishes. It’s rich and flavourful and worth the effort of making
yourself and especially if you have a supply of cheap or free
mushrooms. No need to use the exotic varieties, the common ones will
I was bound to enjoy The Mushroom Feast. It’s a book for those who love
to cook but you don’t have to be an expert. Jane’s recipes suit a range
of proficiency and taste and will also be enjoyed by any serious
The Mushroom Feast
Author: Jane Grigson
Published by: Grub Street