What is a truffle?

Black Périgord truffle
Black Périgord truffle

Truffles are one of the most expensive types of food in the world, along with caviar and saffron.

So what is the difference between a mushroom and a truffle?

A truffle is the fruiting body of a subterranean Ascomycete fungus, predominantly one of the many species of the genus Tuber. Some of the truffle species are highly prized as food. French gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin called truffles “the diamond of the kitchen”. Edible truffles are held in high esteem in French, Georgian, Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern and Spanish cooking, as well as in international haute cuisine.

Truffles are ectomycorrhizal fungi and are therefore usually found in close association with the roots of trees. Spore dispersal is accomplished through fungivores, animals that eat fungi.

This means that mushrooms grow on the surface and truffles grow underground!

Dogs, and sometimes pigs are used to sniff them out, and to start digging for the prized treasure.

To my surprise, about 80 species of hypogeous fungi have been recorded in Britain. Most of these were described between 1846 and 1875 by the Rev. J.M. Berkley and C.E. Broome,

It seems that truffles can be found worldwide, including in China and Australia. And Companies are advertising for woodland where they can grow truffles.

Of course, the quality varies greatly from place to place. And there’s a lot of snobbery involved, with several regions claiming that their truffles are the best! But it’s still an interesting subject.

The traditional truffle hunters are very secretive, with many interesting stories to tell.

I’ll be hopefully finding out some of these stories and passing them on to you.

I already have a few!

But I do give my solemn promise to keep any secrets that I’m asked to keep.

I don’t want to be left abandoned in a dark wood, like one lady journalsit was!

And Truffle News will also be acting as a go-between for buyers and sellers, plus advertising all your truffle products for sale.

We will also have a selection of recipes, using the truffle of course.

If I come upon any other interesting edible fungi stories, I will be including them from time to time as well.

Meanwhile, do send us your Advertising, Stories, details of truffle trips, etc.

Send them to lyn@fat-mags.com

Once again I do guarantee that I’ll keep your secrets!