Ever sniffed out a truffle before? These fungi are some of the most sought-after delicacies growing across the globe – and many say that once you’ve tried a truffle, you’ll understand the price tag! Truffles are mysterious and highly prized – which makes them all the more ripe for one of our fact files. Here are some fun facts about truffles you might want to remember before hunting some down!
1. We’ve been hunting for truffles for over 2,000 years.
Believe it or not, historians claim that our first recorded mention of truffles dates all the way back to neo-Sumerian civilization, thought to have started enjoying these earthy comestibles as early as 200 BC. Some tastes never change, then!
2. The Romans soon got a taste for truffles, too!
Unsurprisingly, the Roman Empire – never a people too quick to pass up a delicacy – also got a taste for truffles, typically breaking them down into three different kinds. However, they even designated one type for use in desserts – the terfez, apparently, makes for something of a palate cleanser!
3. Potatoes and truffles are related, at least in terms of etymology.
The German word used for potato – kartoffel – actually derives from the Italian word tartufo, which means truffle. Well, they both spring from the ground, at least!
4. Truffles have an earthy taste.
That’s probably not too surprising – but on the whole, truffle enjoyers claim that they enjoy the rare fungi for their garlicky flavors. It’s a rich, gritty taste that differs depending on the type of truffle you unearth! If you’re lucky enough to try a few different varieties, it’s a good idea to compare the tastes.
5. Monks were banned from eating truffles.
The odd truth is monks working out of monasteries in the Middle Ages were banned from eating the fungi because it was thought they had aphrodisiac effects! In fact, some still believe this is the case!
6. Ancient Greece adored truffles.
The Ancient Greeks studied truffles extensively, beyond what landed on their dinner plates – it’s thought they created a whole new science branch, hydnology, to research the earthy wonders. Before all of the science, however, the Greeks believed truffles started to grow when lightning struck the earth!
7. Truffles and trees often share symbiotic relationships.
A symbiotic relationship occurs when one organism benefits from another – and in some cases, species of trees and truffles can share nutrients with each other. Truffles gain carbohydrates from tree roots, while trees receive minerals and extra water from truffles that wrap around them. How’s that for teamwork?
8. We use animals to help find truffles in the wild.
It’s not always so easy to spot truffles with the naked eye, which is why people have relied on animals with strong senses of smell to look for the fungi. In particular, we used to use pigs to hunt them down! However, we’ve moved over to using dogs in modern times – perhaps because pigs kept eating the goodies!
9. Becoming a truffle hunter in Italy requires a license.
Truffle hunting in Italy is serious business – so much so that they control the hunting and selling of the fungi by expecting all who take part to pass environmental conservation exams. You will also need to pay for a hunting license every year once you pass!
10. Chocolate truffles don’t contain any fungi.
Despite the name, chocolate truffles only share their name with the gritty fungi thanks to their physical similarities. They’re named after truffles due to their shape and consistency – unfortunately, there aren’t any chocolatey treats growing from the earth!
FAQs about Truffles
Why are truffles so expensive?
Truffles are considered the most expensive foodstuffs on the planet thanks to their scarcity, and the fact they are very difficult to try and grow. They can take years to grow and farm, and won’t last long in a plot or when unearthed.
What do truffles taste like?
This can depend on the type of truffle you eat! However, many truffle tasters claim they taste meaty and earthy, with a hint of garlic. Some people even claim they can taste like fish or soup!
Why do people eat truffles raw?
Truffles are enjoyed raw largely because they don’t last long out of the ground. They’re something of a rare treat – if you are offered one, it’s wise to eat it fast.
Do you know any interesting facts about truffles? Share them in the comments below!