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The Culinary Paradise Of White Truffles

Updated on September 29, 2009

French black truffles are well known around the world as gourmet delicacies and a foundation stone of French cuisine. For the ultimate truffle experience, however, you must look beyond the national boundaries of France and into the underground roots of trees in northern Italy, specifically the rolling Langhe lands of the southern Piedmont around the city of Alba. For that is the only place in the world where the ultimate wild white truffle is harvested, and most experts will agree that it leaves its darker French cousin far behind in the culinary sweepstakes.

The white truffle can only be described as… sexy! Just writing this Hub has me salivating like a Pavlovian canine all over my keyboard. The Tuber magnatum is a granularly crumbly jewel with an aroma that is literally intoxicating. There is a wide body of historical literature which bestows upon this underground tuber magical aphrodisiac qualities. Many critics have ventured into the pornographic when describing the taste and smell of white truffles, and it is difficult to understand until you experience it for yourself. A white truffle is sexy in the most earthy and provocative manner possible.

If you really want to taste it, you must go to the Piedmont in Italy. Contrary to their bulbous, almost rocky appearance, white truffles are exceptionally fragile. Their aroma and sublime taste quickly evaporate, thus they must be enjoyed fresh from the earth. If you have tasted white truffle at platinum prices in fine restaurants in New York City or Los Angeles you have not experienced the tuber at all, only a mere shadow of it. The white truffle does not travel well, or at all. The fragrance and profound olfactory and truly sensual experience of enjoying this delectable masterpiece in its native environment of the Piedmont cannot be duplicated anywhere else.

Chances are you may have had the white truffle served in some cooked form in the American restaurants and that again is a complete taboo. Any enthusiast of white truffle will tell you that in order to preserve its exceptional culinary qualities, the fine tuber is never ever ever to be exposed to heat. At most they may be infused in warm butter for a few moments before serving. However, the truly traditional and finest way to experience this rarity is shaved thinly over a hearty risotto, polenta or pasta. This is the way that the maximum effect of the white truffle can be best enjoyed.

If you are truly dedicated to the maximum white truffle experience, seek out family-run restaurants in the little villages around Alba, such as La Morra, Meruzzano, Neive or Roddi. It is well worth your while to enquire at the local bars and cafes where the local trifolai and their cane di tartufi (truffle hunters and their dogs) bring their harvest every morning. Truffle hunting is a nocturnal activity, and when you can find a little old local lady running a tiny hole in the wall establishment who will take the previous night’s haul, hand knead the tajarin pasta with over two dozen eggs per kilo, prepare it for you and then shave the incredibly fresh white truffle over your steaming hot dish, be ready to enter culinary paradise.

Check out Seeking The Elusive Black Truffle In Provence

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