Christmas is early this year: the catering team at HomeGourmet just got its very first white truffle delivery of the season! And as every time, the entire team just drops whatever they were doing to come and greet the delivery guy with huge grins on their faces, much like kids trying to catch Santa. Very understandable, because the white truffle, besides the fact that its taste is just incredible, is the Grail of the vast world of mushrooms for many reasons...
First, it is impossible to cultivate. White truffles only deign to grow when a whole lot of precise conditions are met (near oaks, lime trees or poplars, in a clay soil, and most of the time close to a stream). The main region of harvest is situated in Piedmont, where, by the way, a festival we can’t recommend enough is currently taking place, the Alba Truffle Show (http://www.fieradeltartufo.org/).
The truffle is hand-picked using specially raised dogs, and rumor has it that the majority of the harvest takes place at night, so that the best “Trifolao” can keep their best spots secret. And since a kilo is sold between 2’000€ and 5’000€, we have no problem believing that story.
As if she weren’t scarce enough, the white truffle harvests have decreased gradually over the last years because of … Nutella. The Ferrero family, which produces the famous chocolate spread, is native of the region and supports the local farmers by buying the nuts necessary for the preparation of their flagship product at a high price. This policy, albeit praiseworthy, has for unwanted effect to transform the forests of the region into lines well- ordered hazel trees, thus destroying the home of this marvel as mycological as it is mythological.
The phenomenon grew so bad that a band of local pickers launched a crowdfunding campaign to protect the environment of their favorite mushroom, and have already collected more 10’000€ out of their 50’000€ goal: https://breathetruffle.fieradeltartufo.org/en/crowdfunding. (Campaign on-line until December 31st, 2016).
And that’s enough talk for today: we’ve got a situation here, as there’s a whole mob of catering chefs about to start a riot trying to decide who gets to cook these beauties.