Friday, November 4, 2011

La Truffe au Coeur

One of the few remaining ingredients that must be foraged to make it to a high-end restaurant's kitchen is the elusive and exotic truffle.  The price for bringing them to the table is so high specifically because they can't be cultivated, only foraged, and only in a few choice locations in the world, such as Alba, Italy, Burgundy, France or the Northwestern United States.

A tiny bit of black truffle properly coerced by a hot pan will yield layer after layer of intense, earthy flavor that can cause the head to spin when paired with mushrooms, wild game and a big, bold red wine.  Shaved like hard cheese over risotto, pasta or eggs, the white truffle is the most expensive and highly prized of the various types of truffle available.  Unlike the black truffle, it requires no cooking or heat to activate the heady aromas.  They currently are priced at $2800 per pound.  Considering the dollar value of truffles, they far outpace the cost of street drugs or the risks associated with smuggling them.  Their intended uses are the same: unadulterated, decadent pleasure.

There is an entire culture throughout Europe where truffles are found.  Among those who hunt them and those who buy, the comparison to drugs is quite accurate, because if you reveal your source or your location, you're toast.  But, there is a romantic lure to truffles, as well.  Long considered an aphrodisiac, menus and dishes that contain fresh truffles have a way of making grown adults giddy as school children.  Or, lovers penning poems with comparisons to the moon, diamonds and women.  

This tribute is from The Illustrated London News, Saturday, August 26, 1882.  
(Author unknown) 

Telle est la Truffe
Riche et Parfumée
Unique et Pure
Fille de la Terre
Féminine et Veloutée
Etonnante et Imprévisible
Noire elle Parait
Or en Fait Elle Est
Inimitable et Irremplaçable
Rare et Raffinée
Envoûtante et Inoubliable

This is the Truffle
Rich and Fragrant
Unique and Pure
Daughter of the Earth
Feminine and Smooth
Amazing and Unpredictable
It Appears Black
Gold, In fact It Is
Inimitable and Irreplaceable
Rare and Refined
Haunting and Unforgettable

Truffles as poetry?  At the very least, yup.

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