Tucked beneath layers of dirt, hidden from the world, lives a delicacy sought out by chefs and diners alike around the globe. But finding this delicious, rather pungent-smelling fungi, isn’t an easy task. It requires a special skillset—one that can be found in one of our favorite four-legged friends!
Whether shaved atop your pasta or stirred into your eggs, truffles are a treat whenever they come your way. But they can rack up quite the hefty price tag, costing thousands of dollars a pound. So what is it about these fungi that make them such a special, and pricey, delicacy?
We’re diving into the world of truffles to find out what’s going on behind the scenes with this mushroom. From their unique way of growing to the nose that sniffs them out and the people who call truffle country home, the only thing left to do after reading this article will be to find out how you can get your hands on some of these bumpy, flavorful treats. But you’ll have to be fast—they’re only around for a very small amount of time!
The untamable fungi fruit, and those who find them.
While most mushrooms are quite good at hide-and-go-seek, truffles are arguably the best. Unlike a lot of their other fruiting friends that we may be more familiar with on our plates, truffles don’t rise out of the soil to spread their spores. Instead, they stay down in the dirt—what’s known as an ectomycorrhizal fungus.
This ground-dwelling nature, as you can probably imagine, makes them particularly difficult to find. Thankfully, they have quite a pungent smell and dogs, when trained correctly, are able to use their amazing sense of smell to uncover where these treasures are buried. (Fun fact: female pigs can also find truffles. They’re attracted to their odor because it’s similar to male pig pheromones! But it’s a bit more difficult to get her not to eat her finds than it is a dog, although they think it’s a tasty snack as well.) 1
Let’s meet one of these truffle-sniffing pups and their handler, shall we?
The relationship between a truffle hunter and their dog is a special one: for, without their dog, the hunter wouldn’t be in business! But this relationship goes far beyond just economical. See for yourself in this first video, where we head to the Marche region of Italy, the truffle center of the country, to meet one of these truffle hunters, his dog, and his dealer.
Huge thanks to our friends at The Perennial Plate for bringing this story to light!
When your local gems are prized throughout the world!
One of the pieces that surprised me the most in that video was the idea that those living around Marche have been eating truffles since they were kids, while the rest of the world spends thousands of dollars on them. It’s quite a testament to the power in local resources, isn’t it?
Check out these other places celebrating the one-of-a-kind bounty only their region can produce:
So, why are truffles so expensive?
That’s the question, isn’t it? What is it about these mushrooms that make them so sought after by chefs and patrons around the globe? So wanted, in fact, that people are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for their unique flavor?
This is more than a story about a sneaky mushroom. This next video from Vox does a deep dive to let us in on it. Take a look!
The next time a truffle is on your plate, remember that less than a week ago, that mushroom was living under the ground!
The truffle’s tale isn’t just about an addition to your pasta.
There are stories and lives wrapped around the food we see on menus, and the truffles’ is one of partnering with a fellow animal, working with the complexities of nature, and celebrating unique communities.
If you’d like to hear the tales of some other fungi, check out the following circle of articles from our library:
And if you’re trying to head down the trail to more dogs, this next one is for you:
Have you ever tried truffles? What’s your story? Share it with me in an email at [email protected]!
As always, stay open to possibilities!
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”—Albert Einstein
Explore more of the delicacies found around the world!
This area of our library is a treasure trove of delicious treats and the people who make or find them! Click the button below to explore a bit of the food found across the globe.
- “Truffle | Fungus | Britannica.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 2019, www.britannica.com/science/truffle-fungus. Accessed 16 Dec. 2019. ↩
- The Perennial Plate. “The Truffle Hunters.” Vimeo, 19 Aug. 2013, vimeo.com/72657384. Accessed 16 Dec. 2019. ↩
- Vox. “Why Truffles Can Cost $2,500 per Pound.” YouTube, 15 June 2016, youtu.be/9gXXceSzL5E. Accessed 16 Dec. 2019. ↩