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How to taste truffles

It is commonly said that all human beings do what they do only if they realize that there is something in it for them.

At this point, we asked ourselves two questions, which are not easily answered: why do we eat truffles and why are truffles so desirable?

To answer the first question in a very concise and superficial way, we could say that we have truffles during our meals because it gives us pleasure. A dietician could certainly agree with us: the few grams of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and minerals for which one pays handsomely, would not be a good enough reason to choose the precious truffles as a nutritional source. A sociologist could argue that people order truffles at a restaurant, consume them at home with friends or give them as presents in order to establish their economic and cultural status, reward themselves by having something rare or feel a sense of achievment. An economist could maintain that all this would be logical only when considering the preciousness of truffles as the result of the ratio between the demand (very high in many advanced economies) and the lack of supply.

Once more we have to go back to the origins to understand the impulse that caused people from all over the world to be attracted to truffles. Why are truffles so desirable?

Imagine that mass of cells nicely arranged in a compact whole that lives in the darkness of the soil, clung to the roots of a tree, to which it gives minerals and from which it receives carbohydrates as its main source of energy: how can truffles fulfill mankind’s primary need, present in any gene pool, that imposes the conservation and the propagation of the species? Unable to rely on the beauty of flowers or the manifest fragrance of fruit, truffles resorted to an even more powerful means: the emission of molecules able to disperse in the soil and emerge to the surface in order to be detected by other living beings, dogs and pigs, whose sexual hormons are strictly connected to. Within the complex aroma of truffle, and in its chemical code capable of bypassing the rational part of our brain to go directly to our limbic system which governs our emotions and feelings, is an invitation to life itself. And that’s not a small thing! Although the human sense of smell is considered feeble compared to that of certain animals, people are all the same captivated by the fragrance of tuffles thanks to an unconscious impulse which can exercise an irresistible attraction.

White truffle in cuisine

White truffle in cuisine

Truffles have automatically become part of the Piedmontese cuisine thanks to the Savoyard cooks (already accustomed to using black truffles). In the last century, the Tuber magnatum became world renowned, setting a trend in all four corners of the earth. The great versatility and the ability to make every dish unique contributed to making this underground mushroom truly special. As little as ten grams of it are enough to enhance any course.

New truffle based recipes are created thanks to its versatility and its ability to improve any dish, including those that were not originally meant for it. Here are some tips on how to enjoy white truffles: shaved with the specific truffle shaver on dishes that are preferrably mild in flavour, the best vehicle to appreciate the truffle articulate, intense and powerful aroma. Among the other courses, white truffles will pair beautifully with beef tartare, fried eggs, white tajarin and cheese fondue.

Black truffle in cuisine

Black truffle in cuisine

The Tuber melanosporum belongs to the culinary tradition of the regions of central Italy. Black truffles are versatile and suitable to the most varied pairings. The Tuber melanosporum is used differently in the different regions, from appetizers to second courses: grated with mushrooms and olive oil on warm croutons, crushed in the mortar with oil and salt and used as pasta condiment, shaved and cooked with succulent roasts.

The Tuber melanosporum is also appreciated in France, where it is widely employed in cooking: grated on soft boiled eggs or shaved on croutons or vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, artichokes and celery