The most experienced chefs and discerning gastronomic connoisseurs from all over the world have every reason to rank truffles among the most complete ingredients, used in cooking. Since ancient times these mysterious but luckily edible mushrooms have been celebrated for their heavenly flavors, which have actually contributed greatly to truffles culinary distinctiveness. There is no wonder that Jean Brillat-Savarin, a well-known French gastronome, called them the diamonds of the kitchen. Gioachino Rossini, a world-famous Italian composer, admitted that he could not help crying when at a boating picnic a turkey stuffed with fresh truffles accidentally fell overboard. In his turn, the author of “The Three Musketeers”, Alexander Dumas, who seems more practical, advised simply to eat truffles and praise the Lord for them.

So What Is a Truffle?

Although it may be associated more with a sweet chocolate dainty, initially a truffle is a distinct edible fungus growing underground and preferring the company of the roots of particular trees, such as the oak, chestnut or hazelnut, elm, willow, poplar or even pine. Also, the composition of soil it grows in and the climate of the area have a significant influence on the mushroom’s natural qualities. A normal truffle possesses an irregular round shape and a warty texture. It must look succulent despite the fact that its dirty beige or black colors on the outside obviously do not add much attractiveness to its appearance. The best truffles are definitely those which grow under balanced natural conditions including favorable environment and weather. This fact chiefly explains why truffles are considered the most expensive delicacy of all times. Even today it still takes a lot of scientific knowledge and experience to create the same set of necessary natural factors which would provide successful cultivation of these fungi. Besides, even harvesting them from the wild requires professional truffle hunters with specially trained dogs, to say nothing of all the regulations and laws which aim to provide the legal gathering and trading processes.

What Does Truffle Taste Like? The magnificent flavor profile of this fungus has made an extremely valuable and exquisite ingredient in a variety of cuisines. According to what true aficionados say, the mushroom appears to be so fragrant that it is usually difficult to distinguish the truffle taste from its aroma. In any case, when there are truffles on the menu, your dinner will be unobtrusively pervaded with pleasant musky, nutty, garlicky, and woody undertones. For a gourmet of a more sentimental nature truffle flavors may remind the scents of autumn leaves or the air after the summer rain.

What Do We Know about Different Types of Truffles and how much does truffle cost? All species are mainly classified as white or black according to their colors, and as summer or winter according to their harvesting season. The summer season takes the time period from May to the end of fall. The winter season may include November as well and lasts to the beginning of spring. Regarding the difference between white and black truffles, it does not confine only to the coloration. White truffles are considered more flavorful, so they are usually used fresh in cooking. Their black counterparts reveal their real fragrance better when marinated and jarred. Nowadays various species of truffles can be found literally worldwide. Depending on the factors and conditions mentioned above, their natural characteristics as well as flavor qualities do differ to a greater or lesser extent.

Ø European truffle species are mostly found on the French, Spanish, Italian and Croatian territories. · Summer White Truffle is claimed to posses the most splendid aromas of all whites. Its musky and garlicky tang is penetrated with some naturally sweet tints, so when slices or shredded over the hot dishes, the mushroom turns into a sumptuous seasoning. · Summer Black Truffle has a milder earthy and chocolaty flavor that grows stronger when the mushroom is cooked. Its skin is firm and dark brown, while the interior is smooth and yellowish-grey. · Winter White Truffle will envelop a dish with an intense musky aroma, adding some reminiscent of garlic and shallot into it. · Winter Black Truffle, as well as its summer cousin, has a subtle earthy flavor combining harmoniously with tender hues of dark chocolate.

Ø Asian truffles largely come from China and Tibet, as well as from Middle East. · Chinese Black Truffle is generally referred to the black European species. It is smaller in size, but has the same texture and flavor characteristics. · Terfez Truffle, also known as “desert truffle”, can be found on the territories which spread from the Mediterranean coast of Africa to Iraq. It may refer to European winter whites and is considered the most collected species nowadays.

Ø Some truffle species are also gathered in the US, mostly in California, Texas, Oregon and Washington.

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