It is said that it is born from thunderclaps and that it is the forbidden fruit of witches … One thing is certain: the truffle is shrouded in mysteries. It is also known to do what it wants that it has precisely compacted, fleshy and bumpy. However, foodies ready to die for some of its freshly grated shavings are legion. Because each dish becomes more delicate on contact. As long as you choose the right one: the black, finely peppery, known as Périgord (according to a botanical and not geographic name), or the Italian white from Alba, with a slightly garlic scent.
Aphrodisiac for the Romans
This fungus, without roots or attachments, has long (at least since the 5th century BC) been held in high esteem by the Romans. There is no equal, it is said, to facilitate lovemaking. It would even give wit. After a period of banishment in the Middle Ages, due to its darkness and its underground origin, the food would find its way to the tables of princes and kings for centuries and still makes crowds move.
A treasure hunt
In France, markets from Sarlat to Carpentras, from Lalbenque to Richerenches, vendors with baskets in hand are always doing good business. Patiently, from November until March, caveurs (or rabassiers) track this "black diamond of the kitchen", as the writer-gastronome Brillat-Savarin called it. Alone as if accompanied by dogs or sows, watching for the presence of truffle flies, they explore the scorched lands devoid of vegetation on the outskirts of oaks, hazelnuts and hornbeams.
More and more popular
But the repeated droughts have made this taste phenomenon even rarer. From 1,000 tonnes per year at the start of the 20th century, its harvest in France has fallen to around 35 tonnes, and prices have soared to close to 1,000 euros per kilo. Several regions are trying out truffle cultivation which could be a game-changer.
⋙ How to taste truffles
⋙ The truffle: instructions for use
⋙ How to choose the right truffles
Article published in the issue Femme Actuelle Jeux Délices n ° 14 December 2020-January 2021