Thursday, June 7, 2012

Exotic Ingredients~What are truffles?

No, its not what you think. I am not talking about the candy truffles! This is a different kind of truffle, one that most of us have not heard about....


Black Perigord Truffle
A truffle is the fruiting body of a subterranean mushroom; spore dispersal is accomplished through fungivores, animals that eat fungi. Almost all truffles 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: Brillat-Savarin called them "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. Truffles are among the most expensive and prized delicacies on earth. They are incredibly expensive because of their scarcity. In fact, it is not unheard of for large ones, which are extremely rare, to command six figure prices. Typically roundish but lumpy in appearance, they have an intense flavor. They are typically used sparingly, due to their strong earthy flavor, but also because of their expense. In Europe, specially-trained truffle dogs and pigs, both of which have a keen sense of smell, are used to locate mature truffles buried underground. The fungus that makes truffles can only survive and thrive in certain soil conditions and have symbiotic relationships with the roots of specific species of trees. The fungus attaches itself to a tree root, typically oak, beech, hazel or birch, and produce one truffle per year. The aroma and flavor of truffles differ, depending on the type of tree where they grew.
Prized truffles include the French black truffle, which is found in the Périgord region of southwest France. Italy is known for its white truffles, many of which are from the Piedmonte and Umbria regions.

Sources:
luxist.com
wikipedia.org

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