In January booksellers often breathe a sigh of relief. They may have made a few costly mistakes when they did book buying for the Christmas season, but in January they can take a break from the barrage of new book releases and evaluate the stock that will stand the test of time. One such book will be Fungi of Aotearoa, a curious forager’s field guide. The publisher had underestimated how popular fungi and foraging are in New Zealand and the book was sold out within days of its publication in May 2023. They should have known better since our $50 note is the only banknote in the world with a mushroom on it: the vibrant blue werewere-kōkako. The publishers quickly did another print-run and now this book will be a go-to for all experienced and budding foragers in years to come.
Liv Sisson was raised in Virginia, USA, and now lives in Christchurch where she leads foraging tours and works as a writer for The Spinoff, Cuisine and Stuff. The book is divided in five chapters: what are fungi, how to find and identify fungi, how to forage for fungi, edible fungi, and fungi of Aotearoa. If you skip straight to chapter four about edible fungi, she teases you with the cheeky sentence: “Skipped straight to this bit?” and firmly sends you back to the previous sections and urges you to get up to scratch on your fungi identification and foraging skills first.
Liv Sisson’s writing style is very accessible with up-to-date fun facts and cooking tips. Stunning photos by Paula Vigus, an award-winning New Zealand fungi photographer, feature throughout the book and thankfully it also includes Paula’s top tips on how to take good fungi photos.
This book will be a great companion to Penguin NZ’s most exciting new book release in April 2024: Foraging New Zealand by Peter Langlands. Many locals will know Peter and his partner Jackie who are well-known for their foraging workshops and tours. More about that book in April 2024!