Thursday, June 29, 2017

Here comes...Truffle! - Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy

While my time in Italy is coming to an end, I have learned to love a European delicacy...truffles! As we briefly discussed these in lecture, these treats are in a class of their own. Truffles, related to the mushroom, are grown underground and have to be hunted out by dogs or pigs. Like the Porcini mushroom, they are often found around trees.  I remember Dr. Leo discussing this in class and saying how truffle hunters will never take strangers to their secret truffle spot in fears that they may try to sell them for themselves. While researching, I found an article from June 2012 by CBS discussing the black market of truffles and how people are stealing them for profit. The article also declared truffles the most expensive food in the world stating that "one two-pound truffle recently sold for more than $300,000." While the cost varies and of course not all truffles come with that price tag, they are most definitely a delicacy in Europe and especially Italy.  After trying this delicious treat in cheese at our cheese and wine tasting and also in truffle butter and spread at our pizza making, I was curious to learn more. After some research, I found that there are eight species of truffles native to Italy. The two main types of truffles are the white truffle (tartufo bianco) and the black truffle (tartufo nero). According to "Life in Italy: Tartufi - Italian Truffles," the white ones are never to be cooked and only eaten fresh in particular dishes. The black truffle (which is pictured) is said to be less aromatic and flavorful than the white truffle, but honestly, I find that hard to imagine. When I got the opportunity to see fresh truffles and taste them, I could smell the black truffle from across the room with its pungent, mushroom-like odor. The black truffle is said to be better for cooking and is often used in pastes and as an incredible spread for bruschetta, like the one I got the opportunity to taste pictured in this article. Perhaps I will need to try out the white truffle and compare it to the black truffle to truly smell and taste this difference. In America, I never had heard of truffles or seen them in restaurants, but in Italy, I see them at every other restaurant or sandwich shop that I have gone to in some form or fashion. I think it is so fascinating to see the different food trends in Italy, and that has been one of the realizations I have had on this trip. Italians take such pride and heart into their dishes, and I think that is what makes foods such as pasta, pastries, bread, and truffles so divine. I have also noticed how little advertising some of the best restaurants have displayed. This comes to show the family oriented style of Italy, and I have absolutely loved this experience. Truffles are so different and fascinating to me, and I hope to eat them more now that I am familiar with them.

 Signing off from the last time in Castiglion Fiorentino,
Julia Schrank

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