Truffle belongs, according to Wikipedia, to the genus of marsupial mushrooms, which is characterized by growing underground. Fruit tuber body of this mushroom is considered a valuable delicacy. Appearance of truffle is not attractive: it is a shapeless, angular tuber with brown warts. The inside of this delicacy mushroom is of reddish color with white veins, which turns black when it reaches maturity.
Value of the truffle depends on its size. The most valuable are the big ones, the size of an apple (their percentage is very small, about one percent of the total amount of all collected truffles). The number of mushrooms of Extra category (the size of a walnut) is 10 percent. Thirty per cent is for the truffles of the size of grapes. The rest of "truffle trifle" is less valuable and is used to make sauces and gravies.
For a long time the origin of the truffle was a mystery, these mushrooms overgrown mass of legends. For example, in the time of ancient Rome it was considered as a medicinal mushroom, as it had the property to increase potency, in the Middle Ages, it was connected with mystical properties, and in the Renaissance - the truffle was used as a universal aphrodisiac. Widespread recognition of truffles as a special delicacy dates from the 15th century AD - it was when the Italian chef "tasted" this mushroom. In addition to the Italians, truffles began to be massively produced by residents of Provence, the Charente and Aquitaine.
Nowadays, to find underground "fields" of truffles specially coached dogs or pigs are used. There is another way to find this delicacy - with the help of truffle flies (these are common flies that like to lay eggs in the soil near the truffle). The larvae that emerge from deferred eggs of the fly, crawling to the nearest body of the fungus, eat it and pupate. After that, hundreds of newborns flies swarm over the truffles. These swarms are clearly visible on a sunny day, and serve as pointers for hunting for mushrooms.
Species diversity of truffles is large enough, but only a few species are considered to be edible. Really valuable truffle varieties include only the following types: black winter truffle and Italian. Their production and breeding is put on an industrial basis. Less known are the Polish and white truffles, which are found in Ukraine, Belarus, Western Europe and Russia.
Artificial breeding of truffles is a very complex thing, which requires significant expenses on creation of a special chemical composition of the soil. This truffle harvest has to wait more than one year, and no one can guarantee a good result. The farmer, who undertook the cultivation of truffles, should possess great patience and faith in the result.
Shelf life of truffles is very short, so try it fresh only during the production season. Besides, the gourmet mushrooms can not be found in supermarkets. Usually fresh truffles are served in restaurants, which buy this delicacy in small batches or gastronomic supermarkets. A good option for the gourmets in this situation, would be a trip to France or Italy in the 'truffle' season. For longer storage, truffles are being frozen or canned. Sometimes, when transporting the truffle is being placed in olive oil or rice, which allows to keep it fresh longer.
Typically, the truffle is an addition to the main course - the reason for this is its special taste and aftertaste. The truffle is able to be combined with any product, especially with the one that does not have its own distinct flavor. French chefs recommend recipes that combine truffle with eggs, avian meat, lobsters. It can also be served with fruits, or added to the stuffing for pies. Popular are salads with lobster, vegetables and truffle sauce. Exotic dishes like snails or caviar are often decorated with slices of truffle.
There are guidelines for choosing the wine. Truffle allow whites "Meursault", "Burgundy Grand Cru" or red "Bordeaux". One of the recipes that earned worldwide fame is truffles in champagne. Considering the high price of the fungus, it is often served neat or with a wine cream sauce to emphasize taste.
Generally, the truffle is a mushroom for gourmets, and it does not necessarily appeal to all.