A truffle is a fungus that grows in the ground in both France and Italy. Truffles are usually found buried anywhere from 3 to 12 inches underground. Truffles usually grow under the oak tree and will never extend past it?s branches staying close to the roots of the tree.
Truffles are one of the most expensive and prized ingredients in gourmet cooking. One would ask why there so expensive. The reason being is because the difficulty in farming them. Truffles are wild and cannot be farmed. They are hunted by either pigs or dogs that are trained to sniff out the expensive fungus. Pigs have a keener nose but are more inclined to eat the little ?gem? compared to the dogs. Making dogs a more desirable way to hunt for truffles. Hunting truffles is a very labor intensive and time consuming process for getting a small piece of product making them expensive.
The truffles appearance is rather unappealing. It is round and irregular shaped with a thick, rough,wrinkled skin with a variety of colors. There are over 70 know kinds of truffles. The most popular is the black truffle of the French perignoid and quercy region. This truffle is know as the ?black diamond? and is extremely pungent in flavor and taste very earthy. The black truffle is commonly used in cooked food preparation. The next most popular truffle is the white truffle. The white truffle is from the Piedmont region of Italy. This truffle is used in none cooked food preparations, usually shaved very thin over cooked dishes or raw in salads. Cooking this truffle may dull the flavor.
The availability of fresh truffles is limited to gourmet stores and are extremely expensive. Fresh Truffles are very perishable and may go bad in the matter of a few days. Many stores now sell truffle products such as truffle oil and paste which give you the exotic flavor without the price.
Herbst. Sharon Tyler. The New Food Lover?s Companion. Barron?s Educational Series,inc.1995.599-600
Montagne, Prosper. The New Larousse Gastronomique.Crown publishers, inc. 936-940