Truffles are edible fungi, like mushrooms. But unlike mushrooms, they grow underground, attaching themselves to tree-roots.
Truffles can go for around £300 per kilogram.
When we speak about “truffles” for many of us chocolate immediately comes to mind. But that is not the kind of truffles I want to speak about today. There are truffles that are much more expensive than the chocolate variety. These are edible fungi, like mushrooms. But unlike mushrooms, they grow underground, attaching themselves to tree-roots. At fully-grown, their size can differ from being as small as a strawberry to as large as an apple.
Truffles can go for around £300 per kilogram, and the reason they are so incredibly expensive is primarily because they’re so incredibly hard to find, frustrating to grow, and impossible to store for any length of time. Truffles need very specific whether conditions to grow, which means that truffle farms face formidable challenges in cultivating these delicacies. Truffles can also take as long as 4 years to mature, and because they grow underground, farmers use specially trained dogs or pigs to sniff out the distinct truffle aromas.
The two most highly valued truffles are black truffles originating from France and white truffles from Italy. What makes truffles so sought-after is, as you may have guessed, their unique flavour, of course. And that flavour, interestingly, is actually derived from its aroma more than its taste. And as you also may have guessed, that flavour is very difficult to describe.
Perhaps the best way to express this unique flavour is that it is something of a unique combination of garlicky, mushroomy, earthy, pungent, musky and gamey. The famous novelist William Makepeace Thackeray aptly described truffles as something that “lulls the senses, and yet inflames them”. And this unique odour is also the reason that truffles can never be stored for an extended period of time: in fact, they lose their flavour within 7 to 10 days!
Truffles can be cooked, but they are usually only cleaned by hand and sliced paper-thin atop warm food, which then absorbs the truffle’s aroma. You actually don’t need that much since, with truffles, a little goes a really long way.
Truffles are affectionately known as the “black diamond of the kitchen” or the “Mozart of mushrooms”, and for all the right reasons, this reclusive fungus is indeed one of the most expensive foods on the planet.
Paul Russell is co-founder of Luxury Academy London, a multi-national training company with offices in London, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam. Luxury Academy London specialise exclusively in the luxury industry and deliver training in leadership, communication and business etiquette training for companies and private clients across the globe.
Prior to founding Luxury Academy London, Paul worked in senior leadership roles within luxury hospitality. A dynamic trainer and seminar leader, Paul has designed and taught courses, workshops and seminars worldwide on a wide variety of soft skills.