Back in November 2016, I was about to shut down my laptop after a long day in front of the screen, when I received a call from Germany. A very nice lady introduced herself as production secretary at DWtv, an international web TV based in Germany.
They were desperatly seeking for somebody to be interviewed the next day during the morning news about white truffles. In fact, they were passing the news of some truffle hunting dogs poisoned by other hunters to limit the search in Alba area, Piedmont region.
I referred them to Massimo, a truffle hunter and guru in San Miniato on this topic, but he happened to be very busy….so, the lady got back to me again and I could not say no…
I am embedding the video below to laugh about my terrible English accent and I am also pasting the content of the interview, which can be interesting to get a quick introduction on truffles. For those interested in a truffle hunting experience in Tuscany, contact me for more information.
These white truffels are fetching a huge amount of money – what makes these white truffels so special?
In general, White truffles we are talking about, whose formal appellation is Tuber magnatum Pico, are indeed very expensive compared to other varieties of truffles for 3 main reasons: the first one is They can only be found in a few places in Italy, mainly in Tuscany and Piemonte regions and anywhere else in the world, second reason is They only grow in pure natural environments, in connection with specific tree varieties and microclimates, third one, They can ONLY be found by dogs between September and December, when their smell is very strong, and not all year long as the others.
Then if you consider that the demand is very strong and the hunting is poor this year, the price is flying around 350/450€ per hectogram.
Last but not least, the bigger the truffle is, the bigger the prize. So you might be curious to know that this year one kilo truffle was sold at the annual fair in Alba for more than 100 thousand euros.
But demand is even fuelling a market in fake white truffels, is that right?
Absolutely correct, if you think how strong the demand is and how low the supply can be, ‘fake’ white truffles are sold everywhere, Chinese potatoes sprayed to smell like the real thing, old truffles sprinkled with white flour to look as fresh ones.
But let me tell you one thing, however: truffle hunters need a license and a well-trained dog to carry out their activity. Most of them grew up in the truffle hunting tradition and are passionate about it regardless of the money they can get out of it, but, of course, some are greedy and try to cheat by selling ‘fake’ white truffles or damage other truffle hunters…scattering poisoned bait in the forest and so on…so this stories happen too…
So in i’m on holiday in Tuscany and go out to a restourant and want real truffles – how will i know i’m getting the real thing (not illegally hunted truffles)?
Well, most local restaurants are unwilling to buy from poachers, and hopefully a good chef will recognize the scent of a genuine truffle…So to put it simply, if a restaurant offers a white truffles menu for cheap, don’t trust.