What is all behind truffles, the precious noble mushrooms? The SSTH Hotel Management students of the major Culinary Arts went on a truffle hunt together with a truffle company in Northern Italy. A report by Alina Fritzenwallner.
It starts at 2 in the morning
In the early morning, the approximately eight-hour bus ride towards Perugia, Italy, started. Arriving in Umbria, truffle expert Irene took us to a remote town full of Italian charm. After a short guided tour through the Italian town, we enjoyed a lunch with regional specialties and a lot of truffles. A first foretaste of what awaited us!
On a truffle hunt with the search dogs Mia and Luna
With a full stomach we went on to the two truffle search dogs Mia and Luna. They gave their best for us and thanks to excellent teamwork they found about ten black truffles.
It was very exciting to experience the relationship between the dogs and the guide. The dog is the centre of his life, without him he would have no work and could not pay his living.
Black or white truffle, what's the difference?
Back at the truffle company the head of the family showed us the correct cleaning of the white truffles. With a lot of sensitivity and caution he removes the soil from each truffle by hand.
He also explained us the difference between black and white truffles. While the white truffle grows more in the lower layers and near water, the black truffle is found more in steeper, higher layers.
But the two also differ in taste. The white noble mushroom is much milder in taste than the black truffle.
Slow Food - Good, Clean, Fair, Local
We stayed overnight in an agro-tourism business near Perugia. As a highlight the restaurant team served us a 6-course Slow Food Menu for dinner.
Slow Food is very popular in many culinary regions of Italy and stands for natural food based on traditional production methods and regional cuisine, which should be enjoyed with plenty of time and tranquillity.
The excursion leaves a lasting impression
Before we went back to snow-covered Switzerland, we were able to go in search of the white truffle together with truffle experts. It soon became clear that it is much rarer than the black truffle.
Our learning from this excursion: there is a lot of work behind the truffle production and a big portion of luck. Furthermore we could experience how passionate the truffle hunters are and with how much passion they search for the noble mushrooms.