WHAT IS A TRUFFLE?
Contrary to popular believe, truffles do not come from pigs! However it is true that pigs were once the animal of choice for hunting and digging them out. This is because pigs possess a natural desire - or perhaps obsession - to seek out and eat truffles. Why? Because truffles emit an aroma similar to male pig sexual hormones, to which female pigs are attracted.Unfortunately, this was sometimes problematical for the truffle hunter as they tried to remove any discovered truffles from within the the pigs mouth. In days gone by, this had resulted in many truffle hunters loosing one or more of their fingers to the pig!. As a result, the majority of truffle hunters now use dogs to sniff out their truffles - far safer!
So, what are truffles?
A truffle is a rare, edible mushroom that is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. Generally harvested in the wild, they are always expensive- sometimes outrageously so commanding 6 figure sums!
Typically roundish but lumpy in appearance, they have an intense flavor. They are used sparingly - either sliced or grated, due to their strong earthy flavor, but also because of their expense.
Note. Truffles are often confused with chocolate-covered truffles, a confectionery that has no relation to mushroom truffles.
Requiring climates with mild weather changes, truffles grow in a limited number of countries which including France, Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia. Truffles are also collected in the United States, in states like Oregon and Washington, and to a lesser extent, the Middle East and North Africa. They grow approximately 12 inches underground among the roots of oak, elm, chestnut, pine, and willow trees where they form a symbiotic relationship with the environment.
Prized truffles include the French black truffle, which is found in the Périgord region of southwest France, and the Italian white truffle, many of which are from the Piedmonte and Umbria regions. The English black truffle is also sought after.
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Based on an article by http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-truffles.htm
Photos care of http://www.lovefood.com/journal/opinions/10186/foodie-treat-of-the-month and http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/dimethylsulphide/dmsh.htm