A truffle - tartufo is that ugly black thing that looks like a rotten potato. It grows beneath the surface of the earth, it parasitizes on the roots of some trees. I would really like to know who was the first person to try it. For sure, he didn’t realize that a strange fungus would once become one of the most precious and expensive food - a rich man from Hong Kong had auctioned a piece of one and a half kilogram for an incredible 160,000 dollars!
It has been known since antiquity. The Greeks and Romans attributed it the divine qualities, and Ploutarchos, Greek essayist was even convinced that it originated from water, heat and lightning. In the Middle Ages, however, the enthusiasm for tartufo decreased, because people believed it was a food of witches and contained deadly poisons. In the Renaissance, it became popular again. Count Benso di Cavour used it in a diplomacy, the composer Gioacchino Rossini called it “the Mozart of mushrooms”, and Lord Byron kept one on his desk because its smell helped his inspiration.
Once upon a time, looking for the "gold of the earth" was carried out with pigs. They loved truffle so much that when they located it, nothing could stop them. That was a real drawback - when they got it, it was a lost fight, you couldn’t retrieve it from their mouth. The other disadvantage was that it was impossible to squeeze a swine into a car or hold in leash :). So they ate almost everything and while digging, they caused also irreparable damage to truffle’s mycelia. In 1985, the use of pigs for hunt was officially prohibited, only a dog is allowed. His training starts a few days after he comes into the world. He is constantly surrounded by a strong truffle’s scent to remember it, and after finding a hidden tartuffo, he gets a huge reward. Later, when he will really sniff it in the forest, he will draw the attention of his master and wait for a treat, he will not care about an underground mushroom at all.
Cavatore, a digger, gets up early in the morning and doesn’t switch on the light that could reveal he goes to hunt truffles. It happened that envious seekers poisoned his greatest treasure - a trained dog. In the forest, he moves like a partisan, quietly and slowly, in order not to give away his secret places.
There is one kind of white tartuffo and seven black ones, but I will not bore you with the details. The most precious is the Black Truffle from Norcia (tartuffo nero pregiato), which in fact has a chestnut-brown color and the inner part is grey with white veins. They say it smells like hell and tastes like heaven, and it is true! When I tried homemade ricotta-filled ravioli, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with pieces of this mushroom, I felt in love. It was divine!!! Bizarre and incomparable to anything else, you just have to taste it. After lunch, I went straight to the nearest store and invested in three glasses of truffle salsa. It is a pulp, crushed in a mortar, flavoured with salt and olive oil, one teaspoon of which is enough to zest a portion of pasta. I loved also truffle toast, omelet and strangozzi noodles - the waiter grated big slices of fresh ,,black potato” directly in front of me.
(Now I have to go to the fridge and cut off a piece of that truffle salami I bought, yum-yum.).