An alternate, and I'm told characteristically North American use of the word truffle is in description of a particular kind of chocolate.

If you go to any reputable chocolatier and look in their display case, you will likely see several trays of small round chocolates, about 10% smaller than a ping pong ball. To be a real truffle, the chocolate must have a flavoured center which is often another type of chocolate, or a liquer-flavoured nougat. Because of the incredible diversity of possible fillings, the truffles are usually marked externally through the use of different colours of chocolate, and sometimes through coloured or patterned icing on the top of the truffle.

Truffles are considered by many to be the pinnacle of chocolate (much as, and perhaps in direct reference to, the fungal truffles are acknowledged as one of the best delicacies, and certainly the best fungus) and are an excellent way to impress your significant other - if he/she/it is into chocolate in the slightest.

If you are a truffle virgin seeking guidance in the selection of your first truffle - go with simplicity. If you have a favourite liquer, the truffle with that filling is likely going to be pleasing, irish cream truffles being excellent, for example. Another one that's generally appreciated is the champagne truffle, which lacks the acidity of actual champagne, but retains the light taste. And of course, to play it really safe, get a milk-chocolate truffle, which is just chocolate-on-chocolate, but which has an excellent texture and flavour nonetheless.

What is a truffle?

A truffle is a type of tuber highly prized for its unique musky aroma and flavor. Strongly believed by many (including me) to be an aphrodisiac, the chemicals that make up the scent of the truffle is one of the holy grails of scent sythesis.

There are two main categories of truffles: white truffles (mainly Tuber Magnatum) and black truffles (mainly Tuber Melanosporum). White truffles are white, beige or light brown with a smooth skin. The white truffle is primarily found in the Piedmont region of Italy. White truffles are scarcer and have more flavor than black truffles. These truffles are primarily used raw and only shaved over the dish toward the end of preparation.

Black truffles on the other hand are dark brown or black, rounded, and covered with a polygonal textured skin. The black truffle is primarily found in France and Italy. It has a nutty, earthy flavor with a musky aroma. The black truffle is more frequently used in cooking than served raw.

Truffles are native mainly to temperate regions such as Italy and France; although they are found all over the world. Truffles flourish in open woodland in calcareous soil. They are saprophytes, usually associated with the roots of trees (mainly oak). Because truffles often occur at depths of up to about 30 centimeters (12 inches), they are very difficult to detect without the use of specially trained animals, usually pigs and dogs. In earlier times, virgin women were used to find truffles. In fact, there is a good book on the topic: Serve It Forth, by M.F.K. Fisher (North Point Press, 1989), has a wonderful account of "the last virgin woman truffle-hunter in all of France."

Truffles are much desired, associated with sex, and are rare: this makes them expensive. White truffles typically go for $150.00 for 100g while black truffles are a little cheaper at $110.00 for 100g; keep in mind these are for truffles preserved in oil. Very often fresh truffles can go for five to ten times this figure.

What can I make with some truffles?

I tried this recipe and found it to be simply awesome. Go to your local snooty market and buy two black-truffles (or failing that, order them online: google is your friend with this one). The smell and the flavor of truffles with be with you for days, but the memory will last far longer than that.

Eating this food with the opposite sex is highly recommended if romantic results are desired.

 

FETTUCCINE AI TARTUFFI NERI

You will need:

In a large mixing bowl add black truffles, white truffle oil, olive oil, butter, salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Stir all ingredients well.

In a pot of salted boiling water, cook fettuccine until al dente. Drain pasta and toss immediatly with the truffle sauce. Divide into two servings.

Using a pasta fork, Twist each portion into a heated serving bowl. Top with freshly shaved Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese and fresh chopped parsley.

Truffles are not really expensive in the Arabian peninsula. They might be in Europe and America, the cheapest place where you can find them is in the Saudi deserts. Particularly in the Nufud and Dahna deserts, northern tip of Saudi and eastern tip between the central and eastern provinces . where the sand tends to be red instead of yellow. A pound of truffles will cost no less than 10 U.S Dollars.

Truffles will grow when it rarely rains, usually in September & November. It takes 2 to 4 weeks after the rain fall for the Truffles to grow. Truffle hunting in the desert does not require pigs, a skilled truffle hunter will look for a small gulp on the sand as big as a tennis ball, with cracks on the surface of the sand. The digging starts and the truffles are extracted.

I've tasted a Truffle. It's a weird mix of meat, potatoes, and mushroom taste. Saudis will usually cook truffles with rice as a delicacy. Again its not as expensive as it is in other parts of the world. Also truffle seasons yields huge amounts, I don't have any statistics, every Saudi will have a chance to eat truffles when the season starts.

Maybe I should start a business out of this and rip off the capitalist west :).

Truf"fle [OF. trufle, F. truffe; akin to Sp. trufa, tartufo; of uncertain origin; perhaps from L. tuber a tumor, knob, truffle. Cf. Tuber, Trifle.]

Any one of several kinds of roundish, subterranean fungi, usually of a blackish color. The French truffle (Tuber melanosporum) and the English truffle (T. aestivum) are much esteemed as articles of food.

Truffle worm Zool., the larva of a fly of the genus Leiodes, injurious to truffles. <-- Truffle pig, a pig used for finding truffles. When trained, certain pigs have a peculiar ability to smell truffles which lie underground, making them useful for searching out hidden truffles. -->

 

© Webster 1913.

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