It’s safe to say that mushrooms are, well, in vogue. Over the past year, the world of fashion has worn its love for shrooms on its sleeve, whether in Iris Van Herpen’s undulating fungal frills for spring 2021, Sarah Burton’s trippy mycelia embroidery for Alexander McQueen fall 2022, or Jonathan Anderson’s curiously toadstool-like collection for fall 2021. In the beauty and wellness sphere, everyone’s talking about the anti-inflammatory properties of mushrooms in skincare products, while the phenomenon of psilocybin microdosing is showing no signs of stopping. And that’s without even mentioning the ubiquitous mushroom lamps of all shapes and sizes taking over TikTok.
Even so, there’s still nowhere like the kitchen to really get the best out of fungi—and for photographer Andrea Gentl, the “diverse, healthy, adaptogenic magic mycelia of the fungi kingdom” has been an obsession since she was a child. Like the aforementioned designers, Gentl was first excited by the aesthetic of mushrooms, constantly drawing them as a kid. Later, as she developed her career as a food photographer, mushrooms became her “constant muse,” as she writes in her new book, Cooking With Mushrooms.
Within the very first pages, it is clear that the cookbook is as complex as mycelia—and just as enticing. Gentl leaves no stone unturned, including recipes for butters, powders, broths, and even infused alcohols alongside plenty of innovative dishes and salads. She also clearly explains a variety of cooking techniques to get the most out of the mushrooms you’re working with. Did you know you could dry sauté most varieties? There’s enough water in them that additional fats are not always needed. “You can cook mushrooms in the way that you cook anything,” Gentl explains. “You can sear, you can grill, you can pickle, you can poach. Most people just think about a hot pan and some butter and some oil and some garlic—but there are so many other ways to eat them!”