Saturday, June 22, 2013

Truffles... not the chocolate kind.

The delicious gnocchi
I was excited to go to Orvieto, if for no other reason than it was a beautiful town in the Tuscany
region we hadn’t seen yet. We had a free weekend and while the students had gone to Naples or Bologna, Millie and Paul went to Orvieto on Sunday for a day trip. They had such a great time that our Monday day trip was planned for Orvieto. We took a train to Orvieto, took the tram up to the main part of the town, and followed Millie and Paul. As we walked, Millie pointed out a restaurant they had eaten at for lunch the previous day and told us that it had fantastic gnocchi cooked with truffles. She reminded us that truffles are a rare type of mushroom that are grown in the Tuscany region and highly valued for their cooking flavor.
We remembered that we had learned about truffles at some point in class, and Molly reminded me that truffles were the mushrooms found by pigs. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s true. Truffles grow at the roots of trees so are nearly impossible for men to find. Sows (female pigs) naturally eat truffles, and they can find them because the truffle contains a compound that is similar to the sex pheromone of boar saliva… so obviously, the sow is eager to find truffles. The Tuscany area of Italy is known primarily for its white truffles, and one of the most common ways they’re served is with pastas. According to Millie, Orvieto is well-known for its truffles, so it was a must-have for our meal.
Admiring the countryside of Orvieto
After we signed up to do an underground tunnel tour at 3:30, Molly, Shannon, and I explored the town looking for restaurants that had ‘tartufo’ on the menu. We attempted to go to the restaurant Millie and Paul had gone to, but it was closed. Considering we starving at it was already 1:00, we were starting to get grouchy, but we ended up finding this precious restaurant on a side alley next to an olive wood store. We all ordered white wine and gnocchi, and it was absolutely delicious. The combination of truffles, gnocchi, the tunnel tour, and the countryside of Orvieto made the day trip completely worth it.
- Courtney Catalani

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