What is Italian Truffle - A delicacy you must try

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What is Italian truffle?

HIS MAJESTY THE TRUFFLE

A fancy delicious delicacy, and above all a precious commodity.


WHAT IS TRUFFLE?

A truffle is the fruitful body of an ascomycetous underground fungus, usually found in close proximity of roots of several trees species, including oak, birch, hazel, and beech. They are never beyond the ranges of the branches.

They are commonly referred to as the “diamond of the kitchen” and highly esteemed in French, Greek, Middle Eastern, Spanish and Italian cooking, as well as Haute Cuisine.

The word “truffle” originates from the Latin term tuber meaning “swelling” or “lump” or just tartufo in Italian.

They have been long cherished by gourmets for centuries and were admired by the ancient Greeks and Romans for both therapeutic and aphrodisiac affects.

There are around 70 varieties, the most desirable is the black truffle commonly known as the “ black diamond”, usually harvested between late summer and autumn ( August - late September), found in Umbria, Italy.
Its aromatic flesh is black, with linear marks on the surface.

The next most popular is the white truffle, here again commonly known as the “white diamond”, with its garlic – type fragrance and aroma, mainly found in the Piedmont region. These have a unique smell, owing to a combination of newly ploughed soil, rain fall, and other factors; it’s almost impossibile to find a chef who doesn’t love them.

The arduous to find truffles are removed by animals that have been trained for several years. Pigs have more sensitive noses but are more likely to devour them, once found.

Whereas, on the other hand it takes several years to train truffle hunting dogs, and regarded as an investment. Nowadays the breed favored is the rare Italian Lagotto Romagnolo dog.

Even Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh is an eager lover, and has a truffle farm, and still awaiting fruition considering that five years ago spent £5,000 on special truffle impregnated trees. Undeterred, he still hopes that one day his Sandringham estate in Norfolk will one day produce a crop of truffles which would be consequently used in the royal kitchens or even sold through their farm shop for profits.

Nigel Hadden-Paton, Managing Director of Truffle UK Limited has commented that black truffles have an incredibile perfume that pounds your olfactory senses and they make bland food taste quite sublime.

HOW TO PREPARE TRUFFLE?

Truffles are usually eaten raw, in small quantities grated dover pasta, risotto, egg salads or meat dishes, only a few grams can give a distintive flavor to any recipe.

You can even top lasagne with them, use truffle spread on bruschettas making them a desirable entrée. Alternatively, the use of truffle oil enhances the flavor to any dish, even enlivens a plain slice of bread, just try it! So sublime!

Ideally, truffles should be used as fresh as possible, however if you cannot use them straight away, they can be stored for several days (from 6 – 8 days) in a paper bag or clean towel and placed in the fridge – never use plastic bags, or aluminium foil.

Before storing, clean them by using a soft brush to remove the soil and other impurities and, for a better result, change the paper bag or towel on a daily basis.  – such as the Truffle Festival at San Giovanni d’Asso, usually held second to third week of November. Or, National Truffle Fair – “Trifola d’Or” since 1967, and has become an annual event.

The National Fair of the White Truffle of Sant’Agata in Feltria attracts many visitors as well as locals, as it is dedicated to the discovery of the recipe of the Italian prized truffle. The event is usually highlighted by exhibitions and demonstrations held during the venue. “A La Périgourdine" is nothing less than an art in itself.

Fats work perfectly well with truffles, and help bring  the full flavor out, which is why truffles are usually paired with fatty foods like foie gras, butter, cheese, cream, and oils.

They can be shaved, sliced or even applied in slivers. Usually 8-10 grams of truffle per person is enough.

Save the peel, a sit can be used in some culinary dishes, and sauces, too.

Preserved truffles are also available, maybe not so aromatic, but worth a try, if fresh ones are unavailable.

Truffle salt, a finishing touch is often added as a seasoning to egg, meat, and pasta dishes.

There’s even a Docu-reality on this topic (truffles – and truffle hunting) which will be televised by Dmax entitled “The White Gold Hunt” and further coverage on Sky Channel, too. In addition Discovery Channel is paying tribute this fine hunting art, revealing the mysteries and the techniques, entailed. Really worth watching!

Yes, your Majesty I curtsy before you as you are the SUPREMACY of all!

Adriana Tenan

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