A strong scent that propagates in the soil rises to the surface and traps our nostrils with an irresistible and seductive aroma. It’s the most expensive mushroom in the world, sought after by connoisseurs across countries. A few weeks ago, at the Alba Truffle fair in Piedmont, Italy – the most prestigious truffle event worldwide – a chef from China bought a white truffle weighing 1.170 grams for the outstandingly high amount of €100,500.00 bringing the 2016 fair edition to its record sales of over €450,000.00
Its preciousness derives not only from the unique and inebriating flavor but also because it can’t be cultivated. It grows in the wild in symbiosis with the roots of specific trees (usually oaks, hazels, or lindens), in distinct areas across the globe, only at certain times of the year under the right climatic conditions. Hunting for truffles is not easy! In most cases it means going out at night – so neighbours and passers by won’t find out your secret spots – being pulled up hills by your truffle dog and his olfactory gift. Truffle spores emit a musky aroma – which is what attracts beetles, squirrels, rabbits, deer, pigs and dogs. You better find your truffle before a wild bore does, or he will devour it in one bite.
In nature there are about 100 types of truffles, but only 9 of these are edible and can be white or black. France is known for Perigord black truffles, while Italy for its white variety from Alba, Piedmont. There are some truffle hunters in other parts of the world, but the varieties change and the quality is not the same.
Truffles have been praised and enjoyed since the era of Ancient Greece, where it was thought they were created from the lightning of the god Zeus. A gift from the sky that encloses all the fragrances of the forest striking you with its unbeatable scent. And it keeps coming… truffles are also said to be aphrodisiac!
Tips on buying truffles:
If you decide to buy a truffle, ideally ask for a certificate of origin, touch it and make sure it is firm. The aroma should be strong and persistent. Have it weighed in front of you and compare it with the year’s market price.
Tips on how to cook truffles:
The thing is, you should not cook fresh truffles. You will loose the entire aroma. This rule goes for white truffles as you can cook black ones, but gently. Shave into paper-thin slices over egg pasta, a fried egg or a steak. Keep it simple, truffle is what you want to enjoy and savor, don’t overpower your dishes with other strong ingredients. This delicacy can stand on its own. Buon Appetito!