The Truffles

The precious Fruit, delicate Taste

To the genus Tuber belong different species of underground mushroom commonly called Truffles, belonging to Tuberaceae family, class of Ascomiceti. The Truffles have a fruiting body underground, and grow naturally in the soil next to the roots of certain trees or shrubs, especially oak trees, with which establish a symbiotic relationship (mycorrhiza).

Commonly for truffles it means the only fruiting body underground that is identified with the help of dogs and hand-picked. The truffle is an extremely valuable food and researched, very expensive. The typical penetrating and persistent scent It develops only Once mature and is designed to attract wild animals (pig, wild boar, badger, dormouse, fox), although the ground cover, for spreading the spores contained and perpetuate the species.

Under the truffle denomination it is also commonly included terfezie, kind of family Terfeziaceae, also known as desert truffles. They are endemic of desert and semi-desert areas of the countries bordering the Mediterranean, where they are much appreciated.

The history of the Truffle

The Truffle, has very old origins, some studies have revealed that this precious fruit of the earth was already known, and used, at the time of the Sumerians and Babylonians (IV - II millennium BC).
The first certain news about truffles appear in Naturalis Historia, of Plinio il Vecchio.In the first century A.D., thanks to the greek philosopher Plutarco di Cheronea, handed down the idea that the precious mushroom born of the combined action of water, heat and lightning. From here they were inspired various poets; one of these,Giovenale, he explained that the origin of the precious mushroom, at that time called "tuber terrae", It is due to a thunderbolt hurled by Jupiter near an oak(sacred tree believed to be the father of the gods). Because Jupiter was also renowned for his prodigious sexual activity, to the truffle has always been attributed aphrodisiac qualities. The doctor Galen wrote:"the truffle is very nutritious and can have the pleasure".

Among the Renaissance authors of note must mention at least the Umbrian doctor Alfonso Ceccarelli, who wrote a book on truffles, l'Opusculus de tuberis (1564), which summarizes the opinions of naturalists Greek and Latin, and various historical anecdotes. From this reading results that the truffle has always been highly appreciated food, especially in the canteens of noble and high priests. For some, its aroma was a sort of "quintessence" that caused an ecstatic effect on human beings. Research carried out by Raoul Molinari and Giordano Berti of medieval and Renaissance chronicles, chorographic texts of the Kingdom of Savoy, letters of reporters and travelers seven-nineteenth century, has brought to light an extraordinary amount of information that enhance the entire Monferrato (area which historically includes the Casale, western Alexandria, the Acquese, the Asti, Langhe and Roero) as a production of the most excellent and fragrant truffles.

Truffle hunting

Truffle hunting, takes time and, above all, a lot of patience. For first thing to do, it is to train your dog, since it is small, to recognize the aroma released from these fruits, which are located several centimeters below ground, near specific trees. The main are ash, elm, maple, cormiolo, mountain ash, broom, oak, hazel, black and white hornbeam, fir, chestnut, beech, larch, walnut, pine, black and white poplar. The land, however, differ depending on the type of nose you want to search. The ideal time to go out to hunt for truffles, are at dawn during the summertime, because with the strong heat the dog gets tired very easily. In winter, on the contrary, it prefers to go out during the hottest hours, when the warmth warms the ground and allows the scent of truffle to emerge.

Truffle species