Tartufi – italian truffles italy gas city indiana police department

All types of truffles are related to mushrooms and are known as hypogenous fungi. Like mushrooms, truffles have a system of root-like structures but unlike mushrooms, truffles never emerge from the surface. Instead truffles are formed below the soil close to a tree’s root systems and similar to how porcini mushrooms live off a nearby tree’s nutrients, truffles are the "fruit" of another fungus/tree relationship.

The truffle could be considered a parasite, since it’s not known if the tree receives any benefits from this relationship. The fungus that makes truffles can only survive in certain soil conditions such as those created in stands of oak, willow and linden trees. Once attached to a root, the fungus will produce one truffle per year, with each type of tree lending a distinctive aroma and flavor to the truffle.

Depending upon the variety of truffle ( at least eight species grow in Italy), these delicious fungi are harvested from late summer to early spring by experienced gatherers known as "trifolau." The truffles harvesters are a secretive lot who keep their special truffle groves to themselves, often taking long winding paths at night or in the early morning fog to confuse those that would try to follow. Trifolau are much like fishermen in that they have very guarded conversations with each other, lest any "trade secrets" are leaked. These men are the masters of poker face: you can never tell if it had been a good harvest day or bad – they would never give out that kind of information. This secrecy has ensured that these rare edibles are still around for us to enjoy and not ravaged by poachers, who would not dig with the care to preserve the truffle forming fungus underground. The trifolau does have some help in his hunt, as the actual finding of the truffle is done by either a trained pig or by a mongrel dog (it is said pedigree dogs cannot smell truffles) with its superior sense of smell. Without these four-legged friends, truffles would be virtually unheard of.

If truffles are the royal family of gourmet foods, then the white truffle ( tartufo bianco), mostly found in Piedmont is the king. Found growing in stands of oak, willow or poplar, white truffle is harvested from September to December with the cream of the crop coming from the Alba area. However, there is another white truffle hotspot in the Marche region near Aqualanga that is not so well known outside Italy. Tartufo bianco is harvested from September to December using dogs and is characterized by a whitish exterior that can be almost brown with streaks of pink – depending upon the type of tree it grew under. In size the white truffle ranges from walnut to orange sized and are incredibly expensive – nearly worth its weight in gold. This truffle is definitely the most aromatic and flavorful of all the truffle species and great care is taken in is consumption. The white truffle is never cooked and only served fresh; it is far too delicate for cooking – although it can be preserved or infused in olive oil. Instead it is shaved raw over cold or warm dishes often to enhance the flavors and aroma of specialties like risotto or Carne Cruda all’Albese (an antipasto much like carpaccio), and pastas like tagliatelle. White truffle is also popular sliced thin in salads or on eggs.