Follow the fateful progress of a mushroom picker as he “creeps along with quiet purpose” through a dark and ancient English woodland in this utterly unique storybook.
“In a dark and ancient English wood
beneath two oaks that proudly stood,
a patch of leafy forest floor
trembled near a woodshed door.
It was that dreaded night each year
The Mushroom Picker would appear.”
I stumbled upon this charming and eccentric storybook last week. Although mushrooms and I don’t get along in the kitchen (it’s a texture thing, I’m working on it), I definitely appreciate their comely forms and earthy scent when ambling along forest tracks. The Mushroom Picker lures you into their furtive world with all the ghostly charm of will-o’-the-wisp leading you off the beaten track into a hushed overgrowth populated by woodlarks, jostling ferns and bursting puffballs.
The tale follows the fateful progress of a mushroom picker as he “creeps along with quiet purpose” through a dark and ancient English wood, while a host of charismatic mushroom characters – Slippery Jack, Rosy Earthstar, Scarlet Cup and our heroine, Penny Bun (a rare and coveted porcini) – evade his annual harvest.
The book is lovingly crafted by mushroom obsessive David Robinson, a co-founder of Sporeboys street kitchen who, along with Andrew Gellatly, has been serving up wild mushrooms to fungi-hungry Hackney folk since 2005.
The story is brought to life through enchanting luminograms, created in a darkroom using a cameraless process. Robinson artfully arranged hand-picked mushrooms on the plate glass of his enlarger then built a scene by exposing them to different intensities of light, after which the fungi characters are quickly dispatched with (eaten), the scene never to be remade. Utterly unique and enchanting, buy it immediately.