Discover the wild world of fungi at Eagle’s Mushroom Fest | VailDaily.com

Discover the wild world of fungi at Eagle’s Mushroom Fest

EAGLE — Author Eugenia Bone fervently believes that by understanding mushrooms, we can better understand our world. But her search for deeper meaning through mushrooms wasn't what originally fueled her fascination with fungi.

"I got interested in mushrooms because I love to eat them," she said.

No doubt lots of the people who sign up for this weekend's Eagle Mushroom & Wild Food Festival can relate. That's why she is headlining the speaker list for this year's event, the eighth annual fungi festival.

Bone is a nationally-known food journalist and author. Her work has appeared in many magazines and newspapers, and she is the author of five books. "At Mesa's Edge" was nominated for a Colorado Book Award, and she wrote "Italian Family Dining" with her father, celebrated chef Edward Giobbi.

For mushroom fans, Bone's "Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms" is her standout work. The book was on Amazon's best science books of 2011 list and nominated for a Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries award. The book explores mycology — the study of fungus — in a holistic way.

'FLAGSHIP OF A DEEPER SYSTEM'

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"Mushrooms are the fruit body of a very limited fungi species," said Bone. "There are all kinds of fungi and most don't produce mushrooms. Mushrooms are the flagship of a deeper system."

According to Tom Boni, one of the organizers of Eagle's mushroom festival, "Mycophilia" is a great read.

"She has been around the kitchen and the world of mushrooms and she knows the whole culture," he said.

In writing "Mycophilia," Bone said she was trying to make the connection between biology and the simple, every day activity of cooking. That's a theme she has continued to explore in "The Kitchen Ecosystem," published in 2014.

"It shows how a little bit of biology knowledge can make you a better cook," said Bone.

Weird and wonderful

Bone is a big fan of the mushroom festivals and forays that have been popping up nationwide. She noted there is a "nutty and obsessive" subculture of mycologists out there.

"It is highly amusing because it is fueled by good food and wine," she said. The festival circuit has become Bone's favored vacation option and Eagle is her latest stop. She will share her mushroom tales and knowledge with the Eagle eventgoers.

"I am not the person to identify the little brown mushroom you found your yard," she said.

But Bone does have a wealth amusing tales to share, including her story about a magic mushroom experience and her epic morel hunt at Flathead National Forest.

"That was a very exciting foray, except for the fact the grizzly bears were out as well," she said.

Then there is the story about the time a friend from Illinois, who offered to escort her to foraging ground where "no one ever goes." To a mushroom enthusiast, that's the proverbial offer you can't refuse. However, there was a reason why the prime location wasn't popular — it was located inside a military base property at the edge of the target range. But bullets zipping overhead just added to the foray fun, said Bone.

To lean more Eugenia Bone, visit http://www.eugeniabone.com.

Meet the Experts

A big part of the attraction for the Eagle Wild Mushroom & Wine Weekend is the presence of knowledgeable leaders who will teach participants to locate, identify and ultimately consume their wild booty. Along with Eugenia Bone, the following experts will be conducting classes during the Eagle Mushroom & Wild Food Festival:

❱❱ LARRY EVANS

Larry Evans has been hunting, cooking, eating and teaching people about wild mushrooms and edible plants for 30 years. Evans founded the Western Montana Mycological Association in 1991, and it became a nonprofit in 1995. He taught a mushroom class at the Glacier Institute near Glacier National Park for 29 years. He is featured in the Ron Mann film "Know Your Mushrooms" and has produced and recorded two CDs of mushroom music, "Fungal Boogie" and "Fungal BoogieMan."

Find out more about Evans and the Western Montana Mycological Association at http://www.fungaljungal.org.

❱❱ KATRINA BLAIR

Katrina Blair began studying wild plants in her teens when she camped out alone for a summer with the intention of eating primarily wild foods. She later wrote "The Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants of the San Juan Mountains" for her senior project at Colorado College, where she graduated with a biology degree.

In 1997, Blair completed a master's degree from John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California, in holistic health education. She founded Turtle Lake Refuge in 1997, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to celebrate the connection between personal health and wild lands. Blair has taught sustainable living practices through John F. Kennedy University; San Juan College in Farmington, New Mexico; and Fort Lewis College in Durango. She also teaches internationally at retreats, festivals and educational and healing events.

❱❱ Ken Kassenbrock

Ken Kassenbrock, MD, Ph.D., has been an avid hunter of wild mushrooms since the late 1970s.

Trained as a physician and a scientist, he has worked in cellular and molecular biology, including post-doctoral research with the brewer's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Although his interests in fungi were initially culinary, over the years they mushroomed (what else?) to include ecology, toxicology, biotechnology and cultivation. Avocation and vocation eventually converged, and Kassenbrock currently teaches classes in mycology (the science of mushrooms, molds, mildews and more) at Colorado State University, where he is on the faculty in the biology department.

❱❱ Graham Steinruck

Born and raised in Denver, Graham Steinruck believes "infusing wild, local ingredients is the key to my culinary success." He's worked in the food industry for over a decade, both in catering, restaurants, and as a private chef. With years of experience, Graham is skilled in locating and identifying many wild Rocky Mountain fungi, and knows just how to prepare each mushroom species to accentuate their flavor and texture attributes. Graham is also passionate about macrophotography, and you'll never catch him on the trail of fungi without his camera and lenses.

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