A truffle (pronounced /ˈtrʌfəl/) is the fruiting body of an underground mushroom; spores are dispersed by fungivores, animals that eat fungi. Almost all truffles are found in close association with trees.
There are hundreds of species of truffles that are big, but the fruiting body of some (mostly in the genus 'Tuber') are highly prized as a food. The 18th-century French gastronome Brillat-Savarin called these truffles "the diamond of the kitchen". Edible truffles are held in high esteem in French, Spanish, northern Italian and Greek cooking, as well as in international haute cuisine.
Types[change | edit source]
White truffle[change | edit source]
The "white truffle" or "Alba madonna" (Tuber magnatum) comes from the Langhe area of the Piedmont region in northern Italy and, most famously, in the countryside around the city of Alba. It is also found in Croatia, on the Istria peninsula in the Motovun forest alongside Mirna river. They grow with oak, hazel, poplar and beech trees, and fruit in autumn, they can reach 12 cm diameter and 500 g, though are usually much smaller. The flesh is pale cream or brown with white marbling. Like the French black truffles, Italian white truffles are very highly esteemed (illustration, left). The white truffle market in Alba is busiest in the months of October and November, where a 1.6-pound white truffle sold to "The Cody" of southern California for $150,000 on November 8, 2009 during the 79th White Truffle Festival. In 2001, the Tuber magnatum truffles sold for between US$1,000 and $2,200 per pound; as of December 2009 they were being sold at €10,200 per kilogram.
The record price paid for a single white truffle was set in December 2007, when Macau casino owner Stanley Ho paid US$330,000 (£165,000) for a specimen weighing 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb), discovered by Luciano Savini and his dog Rocco. One of the largest truffles found in decades, it was unearthed near Pisa and sold at an auction held simultaneously in Macau, Hong Kong and Florence. This record was then matched on November 27, 2010 when Ho again paid US$330,000 for a pair of white truffles including one weighing nearly a kilogram.
The Tuber magnatum pico white truffle is found mostly in northern and central Italy, while the Tuber borchii, or whitish truffle, is found in Tuscany, Romagna, the Marche and Molise. Neither of these is as aromatic as those from Piedmont.
Black truffle[change | edit source]
The "black truffle" or "black Périgord truffle" (Tuber melanosporum) is named after the Périgord region in France and grows only with oak. Specimens can be found in late autumn and winter, reaching 7 cm in diameter and weighing up to 100 g. Production is almost exclusively European, with France accounting for 45%, Spain 35%, Italy 20%, and small amounts from Slovenia, Croatia and the Australian states of Tasmania and Western Australia (see below). In 1900, France produced around 1,000 metric tonnes (1,100 short tons) of Tuber melanosporum. Production has considerably shrunk in the past century, and is now around 20 metric tonnes (22 short tons) per year, with peaks at 46 metric tonnes (50 short tons) in the best years. About 80% of the French production comes from southeast France: upper Provence (départements of Vaucluse and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), part of Dauphiné (département of Drôme), and part of Languedoc (département of Gard); 20% of the production comes from southwest France: Quercy (département of Lot) and Périgord. The largest truffle market in France (and probably also in the world) is at Richerenches in Vaucluse. The largest truffle market in southwest France is at Lalbenque in Quercy. These markets are busiest in the month of January, when the black truffles have their highest perfume. As of December 2009, black truffles were sold for about €1,000 per kilo in a farmer's market and €3,940 per kilo in a retail saler.
Notes[change | edit source]
- Carluccio A (2003). The Complete Mushroom Book. Quadrille. ISBN 1-84400-040-0.
- Maison de ça Truffe - TRUFFE FRAÎCHE BLANCHE (in French).
- "Giant truffle sets record price". BBC News. 2007-12-02. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7123414.stm. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
- Ladepeche.fr - Jean-Michel Fabre, "Lalbenque. 1 000 € le kg: la truffe de Noël au prix du diamant", 23/12/2009.
- Maison de la Truffe - TRUFFE FRAÎCHE NOIRE (French)
References[change | edit source]
- Trappe, Matt; Evans, Frank; Trappe, James M. (2007). Field Guide to North American Truffles: Hunting, Identifying, and Enjoying the World's Most Prized Fungi. Natural History Series. Ten Speed Press. ISBN 9781580088626.
- Brillat-Savarin, Jean Anthelme (1838) . Physiologie du goût. Paris: Charpentier. pp. 109–118. http://books.google.de/books?id=SgkPAAAAQAAJ&client=firefox-a&hl=en&pg=PP7#v=onepage&q=&f=false. English translation
Other websites[change | edit source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: truffle|
- "More about Truffle, breeding, pictures,culinary recipes " Species of Truffles, "hunting" techniques [en] & [ro]
- Website of the North American Truffling Society
- "In the throes of truffle fever" by Tyrone Beason, Seattle Times, January 4, 2007
- Storage methods, preparations, and recipes
- Sorting truffle names
- "White Gold" by Fleur Kinson – the experience of a white truffle hunt and auction