Truffle fungi in Britain

This video is called Truffles: The Most Expensive Food in the World.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Join an ancient hunt for buried treasure

Thursday 31 January 2013

In the great food markets of Paris in the build-up to Christmas, Perigord black truffles were selling for €3,000 per kilo – they must be one of the most expensive luxury foodstuff in the world.

Truffles are normally only served on the menus of the best and most expensive restaurants in Paris, Rome or London’s West End.

No wonder for hundreds of years the country folk of the Perigord region of France have hunted these amazingly delicious and valuable delicacies.

Italians too have appreciated the amazing fungus that grows in the forests of Tuscany and other regions of Italy.

Did you know it is perfectly possible to find truffles here in Britain. They are our best and most delicious free food.

And remember, as Communist MP Willie Gallacher used to say: “Nothing is too good for the workers.”

If you are very lucky you can find your own truffles in wild hardwood forests and mature woodland all over Britain.

They are surprisingly common but that doesn’t mean they are easy to find.

Increasingly British private landowners are planting dedicated truffle groves as a lucrative cash crop although getting the valuable fungus established is sometimes a bit hit and miss.

Prince Charles has planted large numbers of them and if his other Duchy Original product prices are anything to go by his will be the most expensive of all.

So how do you find these little subterranean treasures?

Traditionally, the French and Italians have used trained pigs to snuffle the truffle but more and more today dogs are replacing pigs as the preferred hunting animal.

The reason is that pigs eat most of the truffles they find. Guzzling them down before the human hunter can get his hands on them.

However it is possible to hunt down you own truffles even without either a pig or a trained dog and you can do it for nothing.

You will certainly need a lot of patience. The prized epicurean delight grows underground on the roots of ancient hardwood trees.

Oaks are probably best. Look for the telltale column of tiny gnats hovering above a slight swelling in the moss and leaf litter of the forest floor.

Just below the surface, if you are very lucky indeed, you might find the treasure you seek. It will be between the size of an acorn and a plum and black and wrinkled.

The wonderful smell will make it easy to identify – much easier than almost any other fungus.

Even a tiny one, grated, will make the best omelette you ever tasted, or stored in a small jar of virgin olive oil will give you an ingredient that will delight your taste buds every time you cook with it.

For me the best way to enjoy the delicate, fragrant fungi is in tiny slivers served in a smooth duck or goose paté.

The French philosopher Jean-Louis Vaudoyer tells us: “There are two types of people who eat truffles – those who think truffles are good because they are expensive and those who know they are expensive because they are so good.”

Only in France would a philosopher pontificate on a smelly black wrinkled fungus – even one as good as the pride of Perigord.

Keep your eyes open next time you go for a walk in the woods. Finding a truffle or two could make it a real treasure hunt.

5 thoughts on “Truffle fungi in Britain

  1. Pingback: Wild boar smell truffles, not acorns | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: New truffle species discovery in Florida, USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: New truffle fungus species discovered | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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