Whole black truffles and white truffles

What is a truffle?

A truffle is a fungus, like a mushroom. It grows underground, fostering a symbiotic relationship with nearby tree roots like oak and hazel. Truffles only grow in a select few places around the world, making them exceedingly rare and desirable. Considered the diamonds of the culinary world, they’ve reached luxury status among chefs and gourmands thanks to their intoxicating flavor and aroma. Black truffles resemble a round, soft lump of coal, while white truffles are a light tan color. Either kind instantly elevates a dish from ordinary to world class.

What do truffles taste like?

As truffles develop, they take on the nuanced characteristics of the forest floor, giving cooks the opportunity to bring earthy and pungent flavors to a long list of dishes. Their uniquely musky, robust taste and smell foster an unrivaled sensory experience. Because whole raw truffles are so expensive, most people indulge in truffle-infused products like oil that only require a very small amount to bring intense flavor. Truffle salt, truffle pasta, and truffle risotto are also common ways of enjoying this incredible ingredient.

Truffle hunting dogs in the forest

Why are truffles considered a delicacy?

This food is considered a delicacy not just for its flavor, but also for its rarity and complicated harvesting methods. Depending on the variety, this fungus can cost thousands of dollars per pound. When a harvest year is particularly lean, prices skyrocket even more. 

This fungus only grows in very specific circumstances, and its quality is a result of many environmental factors like moisture and climate. Northern Italy is considered truffle heaven, particularly the Piedmont region. (The white truffles of Alba are the most prized variety.) French truffles are also considered top tier and can be found in the region of Provence.

Harvesting truffles requires a combination of persistence and luck. A truffle-hunting dog must be used to locate these underground treasures, and then the ground must be carefully dug, leaving a small amount of truffle behind to repopulate the area.

Pappardelle pasta with large truffle shavings

What are some truffle recipes?

Supermarket Italy offers a wide array of truffle-infused products from reputable brands like Tartuflanghe and Black Tie Chefs. Try drizzling truffle oil on pizza or seasoning a perfectly grilled hamburger with truffle powder! Discover more delicious ways to utilize these gourmet food items in your home cooking by visiting our food blog.

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