Alba

Tartufo Bianco

White truffles are a treasure from the Piedmont area of Italy. They are known for their therapeutic an aphrodisiac properties derived from the god Jupiter. In the Middle Ages, the discovery of white truffles was associated with the dance of witches. It was not until 1831 that the botanist Carlo Vittadini scientifically described and classified truffles in his book, Monographia tuberacearum. Alba is the best known city for these delicacies. Until you have eaten a white truffle you have not lived. No, you don’t eaten them by themselves but they are shaved or grated on eggs, pasta, risotto, meats, etc. They add flavor to a dish as a spice would. They are the second most expensive food in the world. Saffron is the most expensive by weight. Thank God you only need a small one and they do not weigh much.

To get one Fed Ex’ed to America will cost you around $100. They will last for a few days to a week at most. Italians use them on their dishes while they are fresh and store them in a jar full of risotto rice. The rice will eventually rob the truffle of its flavor. The good news is you now have a wonderful flavored rice to make risotto from.

Many countries, including America has tried to grow these wonders without much success. They grow like a mushroom on the roots of special Oak Trees. Since they are underground they are hard to find. Italians have used pigs to find them but pigs love them and usually win the fight. They now use special trained dogs to find them The dogs will not eat them leaving the farmer with his treasures.

Black truffles grow in more places and are the truffle used most in France. The white truffle is stronger and more of a treasure. To a person that has never tasted one, the smell is not a pleasant one. After you have eaten them the smell becomes an attraction. Don’t let your nose spoil a wonderful dish for you. Manga il tartufo bianco!

George

 

Categories: Alba, Cooking, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

White Truffles

Italy produces all the world’s white truffles and consumes most of them. Black truffles also grow in Italy and in France. People all over the world have tried to get the prized white truffle to grow without much success. It grows as a fungus (mushroom family) on the roots of certain Oak Trees. Know one knows why the Oak Trees in Alba area of the Piedmont region of Italy can grow such delicious truffles. They are not pretty to look at and their smell will turn off those that have never had them. The taste is divine. Italians shave them very thin over veal or grated on pasta and risotto. They can also be grated over eggs.

They are harvested in the fall and there are festivals in the north of Italy to celebrate. We have seen in our news the record-breaking white truffle that was just auctioned off. These little gems are like gold. They grow underground and are very hard to find. Humans can not smell them underground. In days of old, Italians would use pigs to find them. The one BIG problem was the pig! It seems pigs like truffles even more than we do. Can you picture a small Italian farmer fighting a ton sized pig for a truffle? Today they use trained dogs. They can find them just as well as pigs do but won’t eat them.

If you are so lucky to be in northern Italy in the fall, get some dish with truffles on it. Make sure they are white truffles and not black ones. We recently bought a truffle in Philadelphia that was overnighted from Italy. It cost $5,280 per pound. No we didn’t spend that much. They are so light that a medium size truffle cost us about $100. They last about a week. We had great food for one week. You can also buy white truffle oil and use it in cooking your dishes or sprinkle it over risotto or pasta dishes.

Enjoy!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Alba, Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, Festivals, Italy, Risotto, Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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