“The great quarrel between the Blacks and the Whites [...] is threatening to erupt again with regard to truffles. But fear not, dear readers, for no blood will be shed this time; the present day partisans of the black and the white are much more benevolent than the fierce adversaries of yesteryear.” Pellegrino Artusi, Science in the kitchen and the art of eating well..
The truffle is a hypogean fungus of the genus Tuber, which means that it grows below the surface of the soil. It resembles a bulbous tuber, and consists of a fleshy mass known as the gleba and covered with an outer layer, known as the peridium. It grows and develops near the roots of deciduous trees such as poplars, limes, oaks and willows. It lives alongside these trees in a special kind of symbiosis, called mycorrhiza: the roots produce organic substances that are given to the truffle, while the truffle increases the tree’s ability to absorb nutrients from the soil. It is because of this that the truffle’s colour, flavour and aroma are determined by the type of tree from which it grows. The shape, however, is determined by the type of soil: if it is soft, the truffle is smooth. If the soil is compact, it becomes knotty and lumpy due to a lack of space. The Tuber Magnatum, or white truffle, is widespread through the Oltrepò mantovano. They are the most valuable of all truffles.
TRUFFLES FESTIVALS From September to December, the scent of the truffle invades the Oltrepò mantovano: wine tasting dinners, historical and cultural insights, art and gastronomy animate the towns along the Strada del Tartufo Mantovano (Truffle Route of Mantova).
The main difference between the mushroom hunter and the truffle hunter is the dog, crucial for finding truffles: the dog must have intuition and dexterity, strength and agility, but above all, have the ability to combine concentration and fun: its training and symbiosis with the truffle hunter make the dog an irreplaceable element in the search for truffles.
The aroma of the white truffle has a strong intensity from a delicate balance of different scents: fermentation, mushroom, honey, hay, spices, garlic and ammonia. It is due to this richness that it is recommended to use it raw, either grated or flaked, to enhance dishes with its unmistakable aroma.
INGREDIENTS FOR 4 PEOPLE • 400 GR fresh tagliatelle • 100 GR butter • stock •35 GR white truffle • salt and pepper
Place the tagliatelle in salted boiling water or, ever better, meat stock. Meanwhile, melt the butter with a tablespoon of stock and some salt and pepper. Once cooked, mix the tagliatelle with the butter and serve on warmed plates. Complete the dish by adding some truffle shavings and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.