Wild Mushrooms Looking for a Field Guide
OK I've read the past posts on this board and realize the importance of being extremely careful when foraging for these. To that end I am interested in getting a good field guide. Can anyone out there recommend one?
Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora
The National Audubon Society Field to Northern American Mushrooms
100 Edible Mushrooms by Michael Kuo
The first is rather encyclopedic, which might be a bit more than what you want, but I really recommend studying up on mycology in general if your interested in wild mushrooms. And at any rate, it's a really glorious book.
The second is an actual field guide, to take with you while mushroom hunting. It has photographs for everything, detailed descriptions including spore print color, type of gills, bruising color and among other things it lists look alikes for everything (important, important). This is the one to keep in your pocket.
The third is more specific for your purpose, and will be good if you have a good foundation of mycological knowledge already. Don't rely completely on it.
This might seem redundnt to you so my apologies, but it really can be a dangerous venture. Hopefully you know an experienced hunter to go with and if not, check out your local (or even semi local) mycological society. They hold forays where you can go with and learn and pick and take home and eat. If there isn't one, perhaps a local university. Most likely if your area is good for mushroom pickin, there's bound to be some organization around that you can tag along with.
I second the recommendation of David Arora's book but - and this is a really big but - please take a field course or find a knowledgeable mushroom-picker to show you the ropes before you eat any of your finds. When I first began picking I went out with a Polish friend who was very helpful, and more recently have been out with a woman who picks commercially. It's one thing to get a description of a mushroom (even with all the other tests, spore prints, etc.) and another thing altogether to go out with someone who can point out exactly what you're looking for and can show you any similar-looking species that might cause confusion. Or worse. I don't mean to scare you - mushroom picking is one of my great joys - but the consequences can be quite dire if you don't know what you're doing.
I believe in France pharmacists are trained to identify mushrooms. So after you pick you get a confirmation before you eat. At markets in the country people selling wild mushrooms will have a sticker on each package signed by a pharmacist.
I'm glad to hear we won't be reading a news item (bottom of page 25, Strange-But-True section of your local paper) about your death by poisonous mushroom. I admit I am hooked on this little pastime but it really must be apprached with a sensible amount of caution. The punch line of my late mother-in-law's favourite joke was "He wouldn't eat the mushrooms."