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“Cave drawings and paintings tell us hardly anything about the plants the cave dwellers ate, and it is even rarer to find them showing mushrooms, which does not mean that the latter never featured on prehistoric menus. Residues identified prove that other vegetables were in fact eaten, even if few felt any urge to depict them on cave walls. Moreover, if we look at the dietary customs of contemporary peoples who are still at the Paleolithic or Neolithic stage of development, there is plenty of evidence of an interest in mushrooms both edible and poisonous. The latter can be used for hunting, fishing, or indeed for homicial purposes…The ancient Egyptians and Romans greatly enjoyed mushrooms…The Bible, although full of references to food of many kinds, never mentions mushrooms, either in praise or otherwise…”

History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, translated by Anthea Bell [Barnes & Noble Books: New York] 1992 (p. 57).

“The first evidence that mushrooms were used as human food in prehistoric Europe is the recent find of a bowl of field mushrooms in a Bronze Age house near Nola in Italy. Mushrooms were gathered from the wild. Classical Greek authors tend to treat them as famine food, on the level with acorns. By Romans, however, they were so highly regarded that the Stoic writer Seneca gave up mushrooms (boleti) as unnecessary luxuries—an approach to the vegetarianism and asceticism that he toyed with. Recipes are suggested by Diphilus of Sifnos, in the third century BC, and in Apicius in the fourth century AD.”

Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 223)

Why are they called “mushrooms?” “The word mushroom, first recorded in the early fifteenth century, was borrowed from Old French mousseron. This has been traced back to a late Latin mussirio, a word of unknown origin.”

An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 221)

About mushrooms in America

“…it may seem surprising that mushrooms entered the American culinary limelight only in the late nineteenth century. Until the 1890s, most mushroom recipes were for ketchups, sauces, and pickles, with occasional stewed mushrooms or French-influenced dishes named “champignons.” Few Americans included mushrooms in kitchen gardens, which was understandable given Hannah Glasse’s rare and unappetizing instructions for mushroom cultivation…mushroom gathering was fraught with danger, for no reliable American guides distinguished between gustatory pleasure and peril. Typical is The Kentucky Housewife (1839) by Lettice Bryan, which simply warns the cook to “be careful to select the esculent mushrooms, as some of them are very poisonous.” Mushroom cultivation began in seventeenth-century France…The techniques were perfected in the 1870s and spread abroad, just as French cookery became fashionable in America. By the 1890s, a veritable fungus frenzy was sweeping America, both as a fad food and as a scientific curiosity. Mushrooming clubs, where forager swapped tips, spring up quickly. Meticulously illustrated literature educated amateurs and professionals in identifying and cooking mushrooms…The first professional information on mushroom cultivation in America was disseminated on a large scale in the 1890s, mainly through the efforts of William Falconer.”

Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, Andrew F. Smith, editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2007 (p. 396-7)

19th/early 20th century examples of American mushroom cookery are available online courtesy of Michigan State University’s Historic American Cookbook Project. Search mushroom in recipe title or as ingredient.