Italian White Truffle

Watch how the Italians hunt the earth diamonds


 

THE TRUFFLE MARKET | La Grande Mystique

Truffles have been surrounded by mysticism for centuries of tradition. Religious belief has led it to magical and medicinal powers. Its mysteries, or as the French prefer to call it, La Grande Mystique, have fascinated philosophers, writers, researchers and bon vivants for thousands of years. The first people to succumb to its charms were the Sumerians. There are writings about truffle being consumed in the royal palace of Sumer at the time of Babylon’s ascension, around 1.894 B.C. Savages, unpredictable both in harvesting and breeding, they made the Romans believe between 60 and 140 A.C. that they were the fruits of thunder storms. Since then, Greeks and Romans already considered the truffles brought from Asia, Africa and surrounding deserts, as inferior in flavor and quality. Centuries later its weird looks made the belief that truffles were the fruits of witches’ spits, in a time marked by human ignorance. Finally, in the XVII century, Gaspard A. Chatin carefully indicated that certain types of truffles could indeed be cultivated. He believed the truffles reproduced through spores and stablished a symbiotic relationship with its host tree. And that it was the spores and not the tree that determined the truffle species. All his beliefs have been proven to be true.
 
Since the end of the Dark Ages, truffles reached their moment of glory that stands until today. They actually became an obsession in higher circles of society. Catherine de Medici, wife to Duque de Orleans (later known as King Henrique II), was responsible for the introduction of Italian delicacies in the court, such as the truffle and artichoke. In XVI century, truffles were served in banquets for French nobles during the reign of François I. Their exotic nature has given truffles the status of luxurious product and a sign of richness for the coming centuries. Truffles have conquered more celebrities and lovers of La Grand Mystique, like Alexandre Dumas, Prunier de Longchamps, Marquis de Sade, Louis XV and his mistress, madame Pompadour - they all believed truffles were a powerful aphrodisiac.
 
Besides its mysterious nature, today truffles are known worldwide by its high prices in the international market, which vary year after year according to the season, the harvesting quality, and the old dynamic demand versus offer. Prices also vary according to country of origin and locality.
 
There are several types of truffle: white, black, "bianchetto", summer, burgandy, desert, chinese... And the market is filled with tricks to deceive consumers, once the most valuable truffles are the whites and the blacks. There are true stories of sellers mixing tinny pieces of the valuable white truffle together with the lessen valued ones, and selling the trick as if there were only white truffles in the lot. Or cooking black truffles and using the water containing its strong aroma to disguise other less valuable truffles. This type of illegality is recurring, because the noble market of truffles has reached prices higher than gold.
 
In the harvesting of 2003-2004, to the buyers that circulated through trade shows in cities like Alba, in Italy, the white Italian truffle has reached an average price of €2.000,00/K for medium sizes, and €3.500/k for bigger ones. The burgandy types reached €500,00/k and “bianchetto”, €350,00/k. During the same period of time, a final customer would find white and black truffles priced much higher in a regular market place, such as Harrod's in London: white truffle were sold for €6.000,00/k, and black ones for €3.000,00/k.
 
These prices may seem absurdly high, but year after year truffles surprise reaching even higher prices. Especially in auctions, where one only enters by invitation. Sometimes driven by the wish to help through charity, the numbers still surprise either way - as seen during the movement for the victims of a flood in Piedmont in 2002, during which buyers from Tokyo acquired through television fine examples of the Italian white truffle, or Tuber Magnatum Pico, for €7.400,00/k. Gold at the same time was quoted at around half this price. In November of the same year, a "restauranteur" paid €27.000,00 for one truffle that weighted a little more than 1 kilo at a similar auction. And in 2004 the record was broken once again, when a buyer paid US$53.000,00 for a Tuber Magnatum Pico weighting 850gr. Finally, in 2006, white Italian truffles reached a new peak: a beautiful one, weighting 1,5k was sold for US$160.000,00 during a charity auction in Italy, to a buyer from Hong Kong.
 
ITALIAN WHITE TRUFFLE 
Tuber Magnatum Pico

 
We've already stablished that truffles are the most expensive mushroom in the world. The Italian White Truffle reaches the higher prices amongst all truffles. That's why the Italians call it "The Earth Diamond". Black Périgord Truffle comes second, and its prices reach around 5 times less than the Italian white truffle.
 
Unlike the other mentioned truffles, including the black French one, the Italian white truffle cannot be cultivated to this day. Several researches around the world have dedicated a lot of time and energy seeking to domesticate it, due to its amazing market value getting higher year after year. But the spores inoculation technique, to which the other truffles respond so well, generates a poor germination in the valuable Tuber Magnatum - thus making its cultivation impossible. Despite all these researchers efforts through decades of studies, the Italian white truffle remains wild and responsible for the increasing value of even secondary markets: such as the dogs and boars trained to find them in the wild. A dog may reach around €12.000,00, and the "truffières" owners prefer it to the boar, since boars once in a while tend to eat the prize instead of delivering it to the owner.
 
Tuber Magnatum, as it's known in the scientific world, has a distinct aroma: peculiar and pleasant, surely completely transforms the flavor experience. Its scientific description may sound little attractive by written: a mixture of garlic reminiscence, cheese and subtle sub-layers of methane (specifically methylthiomethane). But those who have already experienced its remarking presence in a meal will hardly forget how pleasurable it can be to taste this weird mixture of Nature's elements, and begin to appreciate even its weird looks.
 
An Italian white truffle may reach the amazing prices previously mentioned. And the time to consume one of them, like the one that cost US$160.000,00 is extremely ephemeral. The transportation of such a delicacy receives the close attention of specialized people, responsible for special storage and the maintenance of the right temperature along all the way. So it reaches its destination within 48 hours tops, and the buyer will have around 7 days to appreciate the purchase. If the truffle isn't eaten within this time frame, it loses completely its aroma, and begins to rotten.
 
That's the main reason a part of the Italian white truffle harvest is separated by specialized companies in maintaining their natural qualities for a wider time frame. These active researchers dedicate themselves only to this goal: to make the remarkable flavor experience available throughout the entire year, and not just for a week. One way to naturally preserve the white truffle aroma is submerging it in high quality olive oil. 
 
Please see our full range of Truffle Products at our Brazilian Website
 
One needs to be very careful when choosing a truffle product, since many companies will sell you purely chemical products with no resemblance to the real thing. Always look suspiciously at very cheap products, because such valuable delicacy cannot reach low prices in the market. It's more likely you are spending your money on one of these chemicals instead: bis-methylthiomethane, methyl-2-butanol, methyl-b-2-butanol, methyl-2-propanol, acetaldehyde, butanone-2, ethanol, e/ou anisol. At LUMI Brasil we choose carefully our partners, after extensive research and local tastings. We also visit a potential partner's "trufière" in Italy.

 


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