Thursday, December 08, 2011

White Truffles: $2000 a pound

White Truffle Dinner by vainglory
White Truffle Dinner, a photo by vainglory on Flickr.

A truffle is the fruiting body of an underground mushroom; spore dispersal is accomplished through fungivores, animals that eat fungi.

Almost all truffles, says Wikipedia, are ectomycorrhizal and are therefore usually found in close association with trees.

There are hundreds of species of truffles, but the fruiting body of some (mostly in the genus Tuber) are highly prized as a food.

The 18th-century French gastronome Brillat-Savarin called these truffles "the diamond of the kitchen". Edible truffles are held in high esteem in French, Spanish, northern Italian and Greek cooking, as well as in international haute cuisine.

Growing symbiotically with oak, hazel, poplar and beech and fruiting in autumn, the white truffle can reach 12cm diameter and 500 g, though are usually much smaller. The flesh is pale cream or brown with white marbling.[9]

Italian white truffles are very highly esteemed and are the most valuable on the market: the white truffle market in Alba is busiest in the months of October and November when the Fiera del Tartufo (truffle fair) takes place. In 2001, the Tuber magnatum truffles sold for between US$1,000 and $2,200 per pound (US$2000 to US$4500 per kg);[10] as of December 2009 they were being sold at €10,200 per kilogram.[11]