Truffles

When we talk about truffles, we often only think about the mushrooms that live above ground, discovered by dogs and hand-picked. However truffles are the fruiting bodies that grow naturally in the soil next to the roots of certain trees or shrubs, such as Holm or Oak. The truffles establish symbiotic relationships with these plants, called mycorrhiza.

Due to their rareness and their unique taste, truffles are known for being highly prized and expensive. French Gourmet, Jean Anthelme Brillat–Savarin, names truffles “the Diamond of the Kitchen”. they are used throughout European dishes and many international Haute Cuisines.

The most notable feature a truffle is its strong persistent aroma.The truffle releases the distinct smell so that the wild fungivores such as pigs, boars and foxes can find them hidden in the ground. Due to their sensitive noses, these wild animals often beat humans to finding the special delicacy.

 

 

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Italy is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of truffles. Throughout the peninsula, you can find numerous types aof truffles used in gastronomy.

The most known production areas of white truffles are in Piedmont, South-Eastern Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo and Molise. Although this seems like many places, the areas which the truffles grow are in fact very small.

Black truffles are far more common and they derive from Umbria and Molise. In these areas, both summer and winter varieties grow. The summer ones, known as “Scorsone” and the finest winter variety called “tuber melanosporum”. Within the region of Veneto, in The Po Delta, it is known for various types of black truffles to grow; Scorsone, Tuber Albidum, Marzolino, Bainchetto and Whitebait. Through medieval and renaissance chronicles, the entire Monferrato area is named the very best place for the most fragrant truffles to grow.

The first written words on truffles appear in the “Naturalis Historia”, written by Pliny the Elder in the first century A.D. The Greek philosopher Plutarch of Chaeronea, in the 1st century, gave the idea that the precious fungus was born from the combined action of water, heat, and lightning. Various poets of that period were inspired by this idea. Juvenal explained that the origin of the precious fungus, at that time called “tuber terrae”, is due to a thunderbolt hurled by Jupiter near an oak tree ( a tree that was considered sacred to Jupiter, the father of the Gods).

The first written words about truffles appear in the “Naturalis Historia”, written by Pliny the Elder in the first century A.D. The Greek philosopher Plutarch of Chaeronea, in the 1st century, gave the idea that the precious fungus was born from the combined action of water, heat, and lightning. Various poets of that period were inspired by this idea. Juvenal explained that the origin of the precious fungus, at that time called “tuber terrae”, is due to a thunderbolt hurled by Jupiter near an oak tree ( a tree that was considered sacred to Jupiter, the father of the Gods).

In 1564 the Italian Umbrian doctor, Alfonso Ceccarelli wrote a book about truffles, the “Opusculus de tuberis” in which he summarises the opinions of the Greek and Latin naturalists, and various historical anecdotes. From this reading, it is clear that truffle has always been a highly appreciated food, especially in the kitchens of nobles.

Recipes Truffles

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