Technically, a truffle is the fruiting body of a fungus, in particular the tuber.
It lives underneath the soil where the humidity is higher and there isn’t much light.
Usually, when the time comes, the truffle is harvested with the help of dogs. Not a specific breed, but just trained dogs who are capable to find the truffle underneath the surface. Their enhanced sense of smell is of great help and, at the same time, is a sort of hunting game.
In the history, we can see signs of mention of truffle already in the Neo-Sumerians inscriptions. They were telling about the enemy’s eating habits dated around the 20th century before Christ.
By the time went by, this food lost its prestige and was consumed very rarely.
In the 17th century truffles regained popularity in Europe and were honoured at the court of the French King. Around the 1780, truffles became again very requested in the markets in Paris.
Still, they were pretty expensive and only great nobles and kept women could effort to taste them.
Truffles can be cultivated. They started to grow them in 1808 in France. The attempt was successful, yet the wild truffle is still more expensive and better appreciated.
Although there are hundreds of qualities, we can mention two main truffle families.
The black and the white. For the black truffle the best quality grows in Spain. Black truffle can be winter truffle and summer truffle.
The winter quality is more expensive and generally more valued.
For the white truffle the most prestigious quality is the Truffle of the White Madonna which grows in the city of Alba, in the Piedmont region, north-west of Italy.
Truffle is consumed raw, shaved with the special truffle shaver on top of fried eggs as starter, risotto or tagliolini as pasta main course, beef fillet or turkey as meat main course, and also on top of a bowl of fiordilatte ice cream (simple ice cream, milky flavour) as dessert.
After serving the customers, is a nice touch to leave the truffle on a small plate with the shaver next to it, in case they would like to go for a second round.
A full menu based on truffle is a real cuisine treat, especially when it comes together with the best wine pairing.
There are 5 golden rules for wine and white truffle paring.
- Do not override the truffle aroma with the wine.
- Match the wine also with the other ingredients.
- Consider to go local. A wine of the same area where the truffle is from can be a good choice.
- Champagne? Excellent choice! Bette to go for a champagne or an Italian “Metodo classico”. The composition of those wines enhance better the structure, aroma and elegant taste of the truffle.
- Red wine is also a good choice! Just make sure the taste of the wine is not stronger than the truffle.
The truffle can be preserved inside the fridge up to maximum 7 days, wrapped in a sheet of kitchen paper and put it inside a glass or plastic container to protect the aroma.
Prices of the white truffle from Alba are around 1.400€ from 1 to 19 grams, while the winter back truffle comes at the price of 440€ from 1 to 19 grams.
Prices updated to November the 24th 2020.