A traditional Festival of white truffles took place in San Miniato, Italy, a town, which has been known as the town of white truffles for a long time. Ten years ago exactly here was found the largest truffle in the world, which weighed 2,5 kg. The season of truffle harvest is the second half of November, and during this period it’s possible to purchase and taste the mushrooms in restaurants at reduced prices. The festival takes place on Saturdays and Sundays. It includes an auction and a fair, where the customers can buy not only truffles, but also Italian wine, snails and cheese.
The truffles are a rare kind of mushrooms, which grows underground. It grows between tree roots and is a phytoparasite, which draws out everything it needs for life from the trees. It’s noteworthy, that the trees don’t suffer from it.
Its world popularity is explained by two factors: it’s a very rare product and its taste and fragrance make a strong impression. Truffle dishes are referred to as delicatessen.
History of Truffles
In the 19 century the French learned how to cultivate black truffles, but unlike the black truffles, the white ones are impossible to cultivate. Furthermore, they grow in very limited areas in Italy. The season of white truffles is limited – at the best, if the summer was warm, they are available from the beginning of October till the end of January. In the years of bad harvest they are here just for a few weeks. And, of course, the prices for them rise to several tens thousand euro for one kilogram. For example, in 2005 a white truffle weighing 1,2 kg was auctioned off for 95000 euro (about $138000). A special savor is added to such deals by the fact, that truffles can be stored no more than one week and as soon as you make an incision in it, the whole truffle should be used for the preparation of a dish.
A previous record of mushroom prices was set by another Italian white truffle – in December 2004 a mushroom weighing 850 g was sold to one of the London restaurants for 42000 euro (about $61000). But it had a tragic destiny – the owners of the restaurant decided to lay it open for public inspection and the truffle got spoilt.
The well-known French black truffles are at disadvantage, when it comes to white truffles (Tuber Magnatum Pico) from Alba. The best chief cooks of the world come to this town in Piedmont to visit the annual truffle festival.
These exotic mushrooms are sold for prices exceeding 1600 pounds sterling (about $3100) for one kilogram. The festival includes a truffle auction (attendance by invitation only), fair for experts and a marketplace. You can also try there expensive snails from the neighboring Cherasco and also famous Barolo wines.
Truffles are Aphrodisiacs
The truffles are also called “the white diamonds” and are said to make women more sensual and men – more attractive. Their strong musk smack supplements omelettes, pasta and risotto. The local oily sauce and the equivalent of the Swiss fondue – fondeta – will also improve their tastes due to truffles, leaving alone such exotica as truffle oil, truffle cream, baking goods and even rice.
There are cases during these auctions, when the invited cooking masters spend from 500 to 1000 pounds sterling (about $970-$1950) for these mushrooms resembling cauliflowers. The auction starts at 8 am for them. The sellers are normally farmers, who manage to significantly enrich themselves after having spent about five days for the “truffle hunt”. There are also well-known companies.
The auction is followed by the truffle marketplace and the fair. The marketplace takes place on weekends in October and at the first weekend of November from 8 am till 8 pm. At the marketplace you can see white truffles and the whole range of products connected with them.