Truffles are a subterranean fungi; among the most expensive natural foods and according to the famous French gastronome Brillat-Savarin, the “Diamonds of the Kitchen.”
Truffles are formed underground on the root of the symbiotic plant -mainly some forest species like hornbeams, hazels, pines, poplars, oaks, willows and lime trees. They have a round, irregular form, and their size varies between the size of a pea and that of an orange and, can only be found by specially trained dogs and pigs. Their exorbitant price is justified because of the limited supply, availability only at certain times of the year and, notoriously difficult cultivation.
These mushrooms have been used as delicacies, as aphrodisiacs and as medicines. Truffles are mainly water, with the remaining weight comprising several types of minerals and organic substances such as calcium, potassium and magnesium. Its gastronomical and nutritive merits make this fungus as one of the most exquisite dishes worldwide. With very high protein content, it is also believed that it has healing properties against muscular pains and arthritis and that it lowers cholesterol levels. Also, it is considered to have powerful aphrodisiac properties.
Well known since Ancient times of the Greeks and Romans; writers like Athenaeus dedicating an entire chapter to the truffles and other writers like Galenus, Dioscourides, Theophrastus, Plutarch, Pliny and Cicero mentioning them to their work.
Wild truffles could always be found in Greece; but since 2012 there has been a noticeable increase of food professionals specialising in truffles –both looking for wild truffles but cultivating them, as well. The most commercial types of Greek truffles are the following: White Precious Truffle, White Fall Truffle, White Spring Truffle and Black Summer Truffle, Black Fall Truffle, Black Precious Truffle, Black Winter Truffle. There are quite big differences in flavor between them; for example Summer White Truffle seems to have a sweet flavour with hints of garlic and a musky fragrance whereas the Winter Black Truffle has an earthy, subtle aroma, what is often described as a mixture of “chocolate and earth”.
Truffles are just one of Greece’s culinary delights, benefiting from the country’s rich soil in vitamins (especially Calcium) and minerals. Unique types of truffles can be found all around Greece, especially in the Peloponnese and Macedonia.
Truffle oil is maybe the best way to introduce you to its wonderful aroma. Use it like finishing oil on simple dishes like scrambled eggs, omelettes, pastas, salads (especially with meat), risottos, for a great paring. Beware though that usually, oils are made with synthetic flavourings; make sure you check the labels carefully.
The best way to form an opinion whether it’s “garlic for the super-rich” or “food of the Gods” or a “diamond” indeed or an “emblem of gastronomic snobbery”, is to pop by our stall and give some of these wonderful truffle products a try!