It’s safe to say that mushrooms are popular. Over the past year, whether it’s Iris Van Herpen’s wavy fungal ruffles 2021 for spring, or Sarah Burton’s psychedelic mycelium embroidery for Alexander McQueen’s fall, stylish The world wears its love for mushrooms on its sleeves. 2021, or Jonathan Anderson’s Fall Collection 2021. In the beauty and wellness world, everyone is talking about the anti-inflammatory properties of mushrooms in skin care products, and the phenomenon of psilocybin microdosing shows no signs of stopping. Not to mention the ubiquitous mushroom lights of all shapes and sizes taking over TikTok.
Even so, there’s still no better place to really get the most out of fungi than in the kitchen – for photographer Andrea Gentl, “The magic of diversity, health, adaptability in the fungal kingdom Mycelium” has been an obsession since childhood. Like the aforementioned designers, Gentl was initially excited about the beauty of mushrooms and kept drawing them as a child. Later, as she developed her career as a food photographer, mushrooms became her “eternal muse”, as she writes in her new book, Cooking with Mushrooms .
In the first few pages, it’s clear that this cookbook is as complex as Mycelium—and just as enticing. Gentl has left no stone unturned, including recipes with butter, powders, broths and even alcohol infused as well as a plethora of innovative dishes and salads. She also clearly explains various cooking techniques to get the most out of the mushrooms you are using. Did you know you can dry fry most varieties? They have enough water in them and don’t always need extra fat. “You can cook mushrooms the way you cook anything,” explains Gentl. “You can roast, you can roast, you can pickle, you can poach. Most people just think of a hot pan, some butter, some oil, and some garlic — but there are so many other ways to eat!”
For the photography for this book, Gentl collaborated with them and her husband, Martin Hayes. “Our style is very cohesive,” she said. “He’s an integral part of it.” The resulting images are highly creative, using light and shape to accentuate the differences in texture and color between each mushroom depicted. Shot with food stylists, Gentl uses props from her collection of crockery and utensils to showcase the variety of her dishes in a more casual setting at home.
Mushroom powder forms the basis of many recipes; in some cases, they deepen the umami, and in others, they form the main event. “Using powder, for example, you can stick it in a labneh and dip it in a really tasty dip and eat it with crudités,” she explains. “You can also make some dried mushrooms into a lightning-fast butter, which you can then spread on the chicken you’re grilling, or put on parchment paper with the fish.”