What Is The Big Deal About Truffles?
What is the big deal about truffles? The word truffle is suspected to come from the latin word 'Tuber' meaning "lump". Truffles are an edible fungi or edible mushroom. Truffles are a rare bunch as it has been estimated that only 10% of all mushrooms are edible. Mushrooms grow above ground (epigous) or below ground (hypogeous). The above ground version is that umbrella design that blows in the wind and spreads its spores. Truffles can not utilize the wind for spore transport because truffles are of the below ground variety instead relying on animal consumption and mycophagy to spread its spores. Mycophagy, by the way, is a noun that means the practice of eating fungi collected in the wild. Consequently these suckers are rare and hard to find. Most people today use pigs or specially trained truffle dogs to find them.
Where to find them?
Truffles work symbyotically with roots of trees such as beech, poplar, oak, birch, hornbeam, hazel, and pine. Preferring clayey soils or soils high in lime that are well drained and neutral or alkaline. Truffles fruit throughout the year and can be found between the layer of fallen leaves and the forest floor. Truffles come from France, Italy, China, Oregon and all sorts of other areas with damp forests.
White and black truffles are the most famous and sought after truffles that come from Italy and France respectively. White truffles from northern italy in the Alba countryside. Also found in Croatia on the Istria peninsula. White truffles have been sold for up to $2,200 per pound and can reach 12cm in diameter and 500 g. The most expensive truffle ever sold was a 3.3 pound white truffle for $330,000 found by a truffle hound near the town of Pisa
The Black Truffle is named after the Black Perigord Truffle after the Perigord region in France. The Black Truffle grows exclusively around the base oak trees. The Black truffle is often mistaken for the more plentiful and inferior Chinese truffle. There likeness is so profound that the difference can often only be discovered through a microscope.
It cannot be denied that some of the allure to the truffle (besides that it is just a fun word to say and it just sounds delicious) is how rare they are to come across. Of course the fact that they are rare makes them extremely expensive which provides a further cache to the truffle. Another reason truffles are rare in the United States is because of tense trade relations between the United States and France. The United States currently has a 100% tariff on french truffles.
Truffles taste strongly of mushrooms with a deep woody or earthy undertones some describe even a meaty taste. White truffles are more subtle often with a slight floral flavor. Truffles have an intense and rare flavor that is often coupled with mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, pasta, polenta or risotto. Truffle oil is often drizzled over a dish or added by using fresh truffle shavings to top a dish.
When some think of truffles a chocolate treat comes to mind. This is probably so because French chocolatiers noticed that the cream and chocolate treat they created was the size of a truffle and they hoped it would be highly sought after like the fungi truffle, therefore they called their creation a chocolate truffle.
So whether you wanted to know where to find your truffles, what they taste like, why they are so expensive or what does the chocolate truffle have to do with its fungi namesake - I hope you found some answers. So that is the big deal about truffles.