tuber, meaning swelling or lump, which later became tufer and eventually evolved to the current term in French, truffe.
The black truffle, referred to as l’or noir (black gold), are actually tuber melanosporum,
a fungus that are harvested at the base of oak trees in winter and
summer. Truffle production depends on just the right combination of soil
pH, precipitation, and sunlight for a warm, dry environment and
therefore, is rare. This makes them a highly prized and priced delicacy,
commanding from $250 to $450 per pound.
Last summer I saw prices
at 120 Euros for 100 grams. Summer harvested truffles are less
flavorful, and therefore, are a little less expensive than in winter –
Christmas demand can elevate the price from 500 to 1000 Euros per kilo
(1 kil0 = 2.2 lbs.).
Truffles are hunted and harvested with pigs or trained dogs that able to
detect the mature truffles strong odor from underneath the ground at
the base of the oak trees. The odor is similar to a pig’s sexual
pheromone, making their reaction a telltale sign - the trouble is trying
to prevent the pig from eating the truffle...