About the Authors
Alison Gardner was born in Santa Barbara, California, and moved north to the Mendocino coast with her family in 1969, at the age of 10. She learned her first mushrooms the next fall, from an "old-timer", and has been an avid mushroom hunter and eater ever since. She has attended and teacher-aided for the local Community College mushroom classes, as well as leading private mushroom tours.
She started cooking meals regularly for the family at age 13, learning from her mother, a cousin and a neighbor. She took a commercial cooking class in high school, and worked in two restaurants in her teens and early twenties. She has done some catering for weddings. She is also a botanist and potter, the chief tea packer for the Mendocino Tea Company, and still resides on the Mendocino coast. You may view her pottery at http://www.alisongardnerpottery.com/
When I first moved onto this land in Mendocino I found signs tacked to the trees:
“NO MUSHROOM HUNTING!
VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED
AFTER OUR DOGS ARE THROUGH WITH THEM”
I found the signs disturbing because of the hostility they projected, and so I took them down. I was inspired, though, by the promise of good foraging that the signs inferred. For the first few years I lived here I sought the wild edibles. I took many walks looking for mushrooms but never finding any.
Finally I took Teresa Sholars’ “Mushrooms of the North Coast” identification course at College of the Redwoods, and suddenly, I was SEEING mushrooms everywhere! Since then, I have found great quantities of edible mushrooms, all within a half-mile of my house.
During that fateful class at C/R, I met Alison, who was the teacher aide. Every week she would bring delicious dishes to class, which she had made with wild mushrooms. I convinced her that her artistry deserved a cookbook. Hence this partnership was born, and she has provided us with so many excellent tasting experiences since then that writing this cookbook has been a culinary adventure of the finest sort.
My own delight at foraging for the family began as a kid when I fished and dug clams back on the East Coast. In suburbia, the only wild edibles I knew of were honeysuckle, crab apples, and onion grass, none of which were really edibles. I was a frustrated hunter-gatherer until I learned the mushrooms, and since then, foraging in this mixed coniferous coastal forest has given me many hours of great pleasure and many fine meals. I’m so happy to be able to share the bounty with you!