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  • Truffle

  • Area: Weixi
  • Truffle is one of a type of subterranean mushroom, or the fruiting body of such a 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. The fruiting body of some (mostly in the genus Tuber) are highly prized as a food: French gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin called them "the diamond of the kitchen". Edible truffles are held in high esteem in Middle Eastern, French, Spanish, northern Italian and Greek cooking, as well as in international haute cuisine.

Brief Introduction

Etymology:
The origin of the word truffle appears to be the Latin term tuber, meaning "swelling" or "lump", which became tufer- and gave rise to the various European terms: French truffe, Spanish trufa, Danish trøffel, German Trüffel, Swedish tryffel, Dutch truffel, Polish trufel, Serbian тартуф / tartuf and Croatian tartuf. In Portuguese, the words trufa and túbera are synonyms, the latter closer to the Latin term. The German word Kartoffel ("potato") is derived from the Italian tartufo (truffle) because of superficial similarities.

Biology:
The mycelia of truffles form symbiotic relationships with the roots of several tree species including beech, poplar, oak, birch, hornbeam, hazel, and pine.They prefer argillaceous or calcareous soils which are well drained and neutral or alkaline. Truffles fruit throughout the year, depending on the species and can be found buried between the leaf litter and the soil.

Phylogeny:
The phylogeny and biogeography of truffles was first proposed in 2008 using internal transcribed spacers (ITS) of nuclear DNA with five major clades (Aestivum, Excavatum, Rufum, Melanosporum and Puberulum); this was later improved and expanded in 2010 using large-subunits (LSU) of mitochondrial DNA to nine major clades. The Magnatum and Macrosporum clades were distinguished as distinct from the Aestivum clade. The Gibbosum clade was resolved as distinct from all other clades, and the Spinoreticulatum clade was separated from the Rufum clade.

Type

White truffle:
White truffle washed and cutThe "white truffle" or "Alba madonna" (Tuber magnatum) comes from the Langhe and Montferrat areasof the Piedmont region in northern Italy and, most famously, in the countryside around the cities of Alba and Asti; in Italy it can also be found in Molise and in the hills around San Miniato, in Tuscany. It is also found in Croatia, on the Istria peninsula in the Motovun forest along the Mirna river, and in the Drome area in France. Growing symbiotically with oak, hazel, poplar and beech and fruiting in autumn, they can reach 12 cm diameter and 500 g, though are usually much smaller. The flesh is pale cream or brown with white marbling. Italian white truffles are very highly esteemed (illustration, left) and are the most valuable on the market: The white truffle market in Alba is busiest in the months of October and November when the Fiera del Tartufo (truffle fair) takes place. In 2001, the Tuber magnatum truffles sold for between 1000–2200 USD per pound (2000–4500 USD per kg); as of December 2009 they were being sold at 14,203.50 USD per kilogram.

Giancarlo Zigante and his dog Diana found one of the largest truffles in the world near Buje, Croatia. The truffle weighed 1.31 kilograms (2 lb 14 oz) and has entered the Guinness Book of Records.
The record price paid for a single white truffle was set in December 2007, when Macau casino owner Stanley Ho paid 330,000 USD (£165,000) for a specimen weighing 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb), discovered by Luciano Savini and his dog Rocco. One of the largest truffles found in decades, it was unearthed near Pisa, Italy and sold at an auction held simultaneously in Macau, Hong Kong and Florence.[13] This record was then matched on November 27, 2010 when Ho again paid 330,000 USD for a pair of white truffles, including one weighing nearly a kilogram.

The Tuber magnatum pico white truffle is found mostly in northern and central Italy, while the Tuber borchii, or whitish truffle, is found in Tuscany, Romagna, Umbria, the Marche and Molise. Neither of these is as aromatic as those from Piedmont, although those from Città di Castello come quite close.

Black truffle:
Black Périgord Truffle, cutThe "black truffle" or "black Périgord truffle" (Tuber melanosporum) is named after the Périgord region in France and grows with oak and hazelnut trees. Specimens can be found in late autumn and winter, reaching 7 cm in diameter and weighing up to 100 g.Production is almost exclusively European, with France accounting for 45%, Spain 35%, Italy 20%, and small amounts from Slovenia, Croatia and the Australian states of Tasmania and Western Australia (see below).[citation needed] Recently large amounts have been found in Serbia. In 1937, France produced around 1,000 metric tonnes (1,100 short tons) of Tuber melanosporum. Production has considerably diminished in the past century, and is now around 20 metric tonnes (22 short tons) per year, with peaks at 46 metric tonnes (50 short tons) in the best years. About 80% of the French production comes from southeast France: upper Provence (départements of Vaucluse and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), part of Dauphiné (département of Drôme), and part of Languedoc (département of Gard); 20% of the production comes from southwest France: Quercy (département of Lot) and Périgord. The largest truffle market in France (and probably also in the world) is at Richerenches in Vaucluse. The largest truffle market in southwest France is at Lalbenque in Quercy. These markets are busiest in the month of January, when the black truffles have their highest perfume. As of December 2009, black truffles were sold for about €1,000 per kilo in a farmer's market (the normal price being about €600)and €3,940 per kilo in a retail seller. The genome sequence of the Périgord black truffle was published in March 2010.