When the dog dug up a ‘clump of dirt’ for examination, the owner was stunned to learn its true value
The “clump of soil” knows how to give off scent
One day in 2015, Roberto Bertolusso, living in the town of Alba, Piedmont region, Northeast Italy, walked with his pet dog in the forest as usual. Suddenly, the dog seemed to smell something. It immediately ran under an oak tree and tried to dig the ground non-stop.
After a while of digging, Roberto’s dog found a strangely shaped “clump of dirt”. Roberto saw that his dog kept sniffing this object as if he was attracted to it, so he picked it up to examine it. Indeed, this “clump of soil” gives off a very passionate fragrance. It made Roberto feel very special. So he wrapped it up and brought it home.
Roberto contacted a famous restaurant in the area to ask the experts there to help inspect it. After careful examination, the restaurant’s chefs confirmed that this is the famous white truffle mushroom. Truffle – A gift from Mother Nature. They are often used in meals of the super rich. Their price can reach billions of dong. When he learned this information, the man felt very stunned.
Truffle – A mushroom as expensive as a diamond
Truffle mushrooms do not have an attractive appearance, but they are always on the list of the most dreamed-of-tasting foods in the world. People even compare this mushroom to the “black diamond” of all foods, not only because of its excellent quality but also because of its extremely high price.
Truffles are a type of mushroom whose name comes from the Latin word tūber, meaning “swell” or “lump”, so they are also called Truffles. The truffle is a fruiting variety of a subterranean ascomycete fungus, primarily one of many species of the genus Tuber.
Many people consider truffles to be a type of mushroom, but many experts disagree because even though they belong to the Mushroom family, truffles have a completely different texture from normal mushrooms.
Because it is a fruiting type of underground ascomycete fungus, the difference between truffle mushrooms and other mushrooms is that they only grow underground, and will often parasitize the roots of some plants, usually are hazel, pine or oak.
Animals that eat truffles play an extremely important role in the life cycle of mushrooms. Thanks to animals digging or eating mushrooms, the spores can easily spread on the ground and choose a suitable place to grow.
This fungus requires free-draining soil with a high pH and it usually grows where there is a minimum rainfall of at least 700mm per year. In addition, the partner tree plays an extremely important role in the survival of truffles.
The shape of the truffle is a block with a rough exterior like a lychee or potato. The size of truffles is also quite small, the weight of each small truffle is only about 20 grams, the largest truffle can be up to 1kg.
There are more than 100 varieties of truffle mushrooms found in 12 countries across Europe, Asia, North Africa, and are now grown in North America. But the most sought-after mushrooms come from two key regions – the black truffle from the Périgord region in southwestern France and the white truffle from Alba, in the Piedmont region of Italy. Many other countries are trying to create their own regional characteristics. But the number of successes can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
The value of truffle mushrooms comes from their unique scent, enough to enhance any dish even if only used in a very small proportion, at most only up to 10g. Dishes containing this mushroom ingredient also cost up to hundreds of dollars.
In cuisine, truffle mushrooms are often used raw by grating them and sprinkling them on other dishes to enhance flavor. Truffles are rarely cooked because they easily lose their characteristic attractive scent.
The larger the truffle, the more expensive it is. That’s because larger truffles retain more moisture than smaller truffles. The more moisture in the truffle, the richer the truffle’s flavor. In addition, truffle mushrooms have a very short shelf life, so their price is even more expensive.
There are two types of truffle mushrooms: white and black. White mushrooms are more expensive than black mushrooms but are rarely used. In the Guinness Book of Records, the largest truffle ever found is the white truffle and sells for a lot of money.
White truffles are creamy, light brown or have a slight stone texture. The flavor of white truffle mushrooms has a subtle smell of garlic, a strange sweetness, and a strong aroma, but the taste of the mushroom does not last long.
According to Reuters, in an auction in 2021, a white truffle weighing 830 grams was sold for 103,000 euros (more than 2.6 billion VND). On November 8, 2015, 11 Italian Alba white truffles, weighing about 1kg, were auctioned at the ancient castle of Grinzane Cavour, northwest Italy, for 287,500 euros (about 7.47 billion VND). .
Hard to find like truffles
Truffle mushrooms are almost impossible to grow, they can only grow wild in certain soils in Europe. White truffles take at least 5 years to grow, some even take up to 11 years. In particular, if the natural environment is not ideal, truffles will not be able to grow.
Truffle mushrooms are also known as “bizarre” mushrooms, because there are no signs for humans to know that they exist because they are hidden deep in the dark layers of soil. So to find truffles, people must train dogs or pigs to follow the scent and dig in the ground.
Dogs or pigs are strictly trained to sniff out the location of truffles. Sometimes, truffles may lie just below ground level or may require digging several meters deep to harvest. Because of this, finding truffle mushrooms is often compared to digging for gold or diamonds.