Filed under: Dining
Truffles are among the most expensive and prized delicacies on earth. A member of the fungi family, they are incredibly expensive because of their scarcity. In fact, it is not unheard of for large ones, which are extremely rare, to command six figure prices.
Typically roundish but lumpy in appearance, they have an intense flavor. They are typically used sparingly, due to their strong earthy flavor, but also because of their expense.
In Europe, specially-trained truffle dogs and pigs, both of which have a keen sense of smell, are used to locate mature truffles buried underground. The fungus that makes truffles can only survive and thrive in certain soil conditions and have symbiotic relationships with the roots of specific species of trees. The fungus attaches itself to a tree root, typically oak, beech, hazel or birch, and produce one truffle per year. The aroma and flavor of truffles differ, depending on the type of tree where they grew.
Prized truffles include the French black truffle, which is found in the Périgord region of southwest France. Italy is known for its white truffles, many of which are from the Piedmonte and Umbria regions.