Truffle priceTruffle price, aristocrats of the mushroom kingdom, as theygrow, no one has seen. Even those who collect them from generation to generation. Because the whole life of a truffle passes underground and is completely dependent on trees or shrubs, the roots of which become the real breadwinners of these, sharing with them the reserves of carbohydrates. True, it would be unfair to call truffles freeloaders. The web of fungal mycelium filaments, enveloping the roots of the host plant, helps it obtain additional moisture and, in addition, protects against all kinds of microbial diseases, for example, phytophthora.Mycelium, the main part of the mushroom organism, livesfor a long time, if nobody destroys it, and periodically forms fruiting bodies containing spores necessary for further reproduction. In ordinary mushrooms is simple. Wind and water take care of their spread. But the continuation of the underground truffle genus depends on whether they are found, dug up and eaten by animals, so that disputes, having passed through the intestines of forest gourmets and having fallen to the ground, could germinate in a new place. To attract the attention of eaters, truffles have one single bait - a fragrance that developed in the process of evolution to unimaginable limits. True, not all truffles smell appetizing. For the most part they exude a stench similar to the smell of tar, rotten herring, or rotting onions. And only a few varieties of underground fungi, among which the black Perigord truffle occupies an honorable place, cause increased formation of gastric juice in humans. The main conditions for the growth of truffles are the warm climate of the temperate zone and the mixed forest. These conditions correspond to the middle zone of Russia, the Crimea, many places in Spain, Portugal, southern Germany, Croatia, France and Italy. Actually, in all these areas and find them. There are also on the Pacific coast of the USA, in the forests of California, in Australia and North Africa - Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia. There are two in the truffle kingdom. The first is white Italian truffle, a specialty of the Piedmont region, which is extremely rare. Any Italian will say that he is better than others. And it will be both right and wrong. Its aroma is so subtle and diverse that one can devote it to one cookbook. The second one is its eternal rival black Perigord. If we compare them, although this is not entirely correct, and this comparison still does not go away, the white pemontet gives a bright, almost non-negotiable composition of smells associated with the notion “dolche vita” stronger than the Gucci brand and the motor scooter “ Vespa ”, while the perihorec is a reason for reflection. Combinations of various products with white truffles are always spectacular, like a salute, while with black some of them may seem unforgettable, others monstrous, and still others are mundane. Due to the many faces of the smell of black truffle, it is equally good with both veal and chocolate. Mushroom huntersThe main animals on the truffle hunt are dogs andpigs. And more ... flies. Truffle flies are not a species name. In each country, they are their own. But makes their love of truffles. They flock to smell and lay eggs in the soil next door. Larvae come out of eggs, creep to the nearest fruit body, bite into it and eat until they pupate. Soon, hundreds of flies simultaneously hatch from the pupae. Their swarming in sunny weather makes it easy to find truffles: the swarm forms a pillar in the air, pointing directly to the nest. As a rule, only one mushroom is affected in the nest, and the rest are whole. The advantage of this search is minimal cost. Minus - too many competitors with much more efficient helpers, pigs and dogs. Therefore, broadly "hunting for flies" is used only in the Middle East. In France, it is reserved for tourists. Pigs, like flies, do not need to train truffles, they smell prey 20 meters away, run and dig up to eat, just hold on. Therefore, search pigs are driven on a leash, and immediately after the pig “makes a stand”, it is rewarded with something tasty, such as sweet corn or beans, to distract from mushroom delicacy. Pigs have another drawback: besides gluttony, they get tired quickly, especially if the nests are scattered far from each other. Therefore, the most common type of huntingtruffles - with a dog. The breed does not matter, they train both mongrels and purebred dogs. Shepherd dogs and small dogs such as poodles, dachshunds and even toy terriers work equally well. Puppies are taught from 2-3 months of age. First, to achieve the effect of remembering the smell in the milk, add the infusion of truffle. Then they learn to bring aport, rubbed with fresh mushrooms. Then the task is complicated by burying it in the ground. The most crucial stage in the preparation of a young “truffle” dog is “nazhivanie” along the route developed by coaches in mushroom places. These classes are held at dawn, with high humidity, a temperature of 10-15 ° C and constant moderate wind. The direction of movement is maintained so that the dog all the time went against the wind. Training such a dog is a painstaking and expensive business, and therefore its cost is at least 5,000 euros. However, the real tartufayo mushroom pickers do not stint. A year or two, and the dog will more than cover all the costs of its acquisition and will begin to generate income for the owner. With the development of agro-gastronomic tourism, some truffle dogs have to perform the functions of guides or mass action entertainers. For example, to serve tours of the truffle forest with strangers. But they cope with it.Property of the RepublicPerigorsk black truffle -very expensive. Find it is not easy, even in places of habitat. Since the 60s of the last century, for example, nothing has been heard of truffles from Charente. As experts say, black truffles are experiencing dark times. It only remains to be surprised at the numbers of the old statistics. Just over a hundred years ago, France produced 1,320 tons of black truffle annually. And in the 1999/2000 season, recognized as fruitful, the total sales did not exceed 30 tons! The reasons for such a fall are different. Some experts point to the consequences of the First World War, when truffle mining was almost the only source of income, and thousands of people who had no previous connection to the “black diamond” began frantically and illiterately rummaging in the ground, reducing any possibility of regeneration to almost zero. . Others blame for reducing the area of ​​oak and beech forests and environmental pollution. Apparently, both are right. And therefore the price of truffles, which have already become certainWonder, exorbitantly large. Although keeping the prices at a certain level and contribute to the mushroom pickers themselves. They make sure that the harvest is not too big and the prices for truffles do not fall. The collection should balance on the verge of shortage in order to cause feverish demand among buyers who are ready to lay out from 400 to 1,000 or more euros for one kilogram of truffles. The forests that are most generous for truffles are in Perigord and Quercy, which cannot be found on the political map of France today. But there are departments of Dordogne and Law. The famous black truffles grow here. Everybody knows this: both the French and the visitors. However, the locals would not confirm this. Because the location of the truffles is a great mystery. So it is customary in these places - not to talk about truffles of the whole truth. The truffle hunters who are indiscriminately treat everyone without exception as attackers who only think about plundering the treasured treasures and putting them around the world. Nevertheless, it is with efforts visiting enthusiasts the Perigord truffle gains no future. One of those associates is Hugues Martin. He arrived in Dordogne at the age of 15 and has since been engaged in truffles, the breeding of which has become the business of his life. He first worked as a forester in various local nurseries. Then, in 1996, I bought a truffle farm. And in 2001 he was appointed Commissioner for the quality of the truffle market of the city of Saint-Alvers (Gironde department in south-west France). This position in its authority can be compared in these parts except with the position of mayor. And the fact that this post was received by a stranger speaks volumes. Farms are the last hope of the Dordogne. Truffles have long tried to "domesticate." As a matter of fact, the “golden age” of truffles, which came at the end of the 19th century, was the result of such agrotechnical experiments, when instead of vineyards afflicted with an epidemic of phyloxera, oaks were planted, and acorns were sown mixed with soil taken from places rich in truffles. And since the 60s of the last century, such farms began to appear here again. This is one of the most leisurely branches of agriculture. The first harvest can be expected in 15 years. And there is no guarantee that it will appear. The truffle is a capricious mushroom. They say that he goes into the hands of only those who respect him. And if this is so, then South Martin must be lucky.What do these treasures of nature look like? All of them, not excluding the black, very ugly. Their fruit bodies are round and at the same time slightly angular, with large warts, have a black or reddish-brown color. The flesh is reddish, blackened by maturity, penetrated by white veins. Black Perigord truffle ripens in the fall. Hunting season runs from November to March. The best are mushrooms, the size of which is close to a large apple. They are very rare, constitute only 1% of the total collection and fall into the category of super extra. Mushrooms the size of a walnut are extra grade and make up 10%, even smaller, about a cherry, is the first choice. They are 30% of the collection. Most of the "catch" is very small truffles, which are suitable only for making sauces or gravy. It must be said that besides the real Perigord truffle Tuber melanosporum, the Tuber brumale winter truffle, also called "black truffle", is often on sale. It grows in the same places as real black, but it occurs more often. However, suppliers who care about their reputation (and in this sector of the economy almost everyone cares about their reputation) are sure to tell you exactly what you are buying in this case. Here and the price is different. The main place where citizens can buy truffles is the House of Truffles, located on Place de la Madeleine in Paris, in which from November to March the freshly selected truffles go on sale and sorted by grade. And the prices for goods vary from astronomical to quite acceptable, although they can be called such very conventionally. It is better not to think about the price of such a purchase in advance so as not to be nervous. Truffleing Talking about the taste of truffle does not make much sense, because you are unlikely to have the opportunity to somehow bite off a whole mushroom. Yes, and no one does. Is that if you find yourself somewhere in Algeria or Iraq, and in the season of collecting local truffles, where you can try them baked in the ashes. However, in the Middle Eastern and desert types of truffles, the smell is unstable and completely disappears during heat treatment. But it was from them that everything began. It is difficult to say when exactly the ancient Romans began to buy truffles in the Middle East and in Africa. In any case, after the conquest of Egypt - it was from there that the ability to make truffles came to Rome. Then, even more than now, truffles were an attribute of crazy luxury and were bought at the price of gold. Yes, and accessories for their preparation corresponded to a valuable product. The golden braziers prescribed by ancient culinary specialists for making truffles today are not used by even the most successful restaurateur. Seasonings and spices were also added expensive, however, usual for that time - salt, various spicy herbs, and certainly cumin (this spice is now known in Russia and the CIS as “zira” and is an indispensable component of pilau). There is no information about the weight ratios of truffles and added seasonings, since the custom to write recipes appeared only in the XIX century. In any case, the aroma of the desert truffle, which is not very intense by nature, but also weakened during transportation, most likely had nothing left. In addition to the memory that in Egypt, these mushrooms were extremely tasty and fragrant. The second and final discovery of truffles took place in the 15th century. It was then that the Italians discovered that delicacies were growing right under their feet. Do not forget that the Italian cuisine at that time was much poorer than it is now. Therefore, the "open" truffle instantly turned into a subject of worship. And when the Italian chefs went to work abroad, they immediately began to look for a cult mushroom upon arrival. And found. First - in France. Then - in Russia. In 1533 Florentine Catherine de Medici married the future king of France. Arriving in France, the young princess nearly withered, since she absolutely could not eat the local hard-to-digest food. Therefore, after the Medici from Florence, the landing of the cooks arrived. Thus began the history of classic French cuisine, in which truffles took a worthy place. For the sake of justice, it must be said that truffles were collected in France before the Florentine coming - in Provence, the foothills of the Provencal Alps, Aquitaine and Charente, but they did not know the secret of their unique taste and added to food to increase the volume. In Russia, there was also a truffle fishery. Now it is hard to believe, but the Moscow province was its center for two centuries. Production volumes amounted to hundreds, and in other years - more than a thousand pounds. When it all began, it is not exactly known, but in the XVIII century dozens of villages were fed with truffles. The highest rise of the industry coincided with the return in 1813 of Russian troops from Paris. In the north, it flourished in the vicinity of Fryanovo, not far from Fryazino and Fryazevo - villages inhabited by the Italians who settled in Russia under Peter I and so settled here. Near Podolsky, many truffles were mined in the vicinity of Dubrovits, where at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries Italian craftsmen built the Church of the Sign of the Mother of God for 14 years. Explanations of who advised the local men to extract the mushroom from the ground, suggest themselves. Under Dmitrov, the extraction of truffles acquired strange, but distinctly Russian features — bears began to be used to search. They were specially prepared, first of all they pulled out their teeth. This practice did not receive widespread use, since it was difficult for the bear to be driven away from the prey found.A few grams of pleasure. Despitethe youth of the domestic truffle market (the latest Russian truffle history totals some 10-15 years), there are many places where you can taste or buy amazing mushrooms - these are elite restaurants, delicatessen stores or expensive gastronomic boutiques. They are "found" all year round. More valuable (in the absence of the most expensive - the Perigord) and, accordingly, the cost is winter, mined from late September to March. The timing of its growth and is considered the truffle season. The summer variety is less quoted, replacing its relative in the off-season (from spring to autumn). The path of the fungus from the place of its growth to the Russian consumer looks like this. “As a rule, expensive perishable goods are purchased to order (for a particular institution or a cook) from suppliers - owners of truffle farms and corresponding licenses - in lots, calculated in grams (30 g, 50 g, 100 g),” says Yevgeny Zapolsky, chef of the mushroom restaurant Portofino. Truffles are brought in the form of whole tubers, pieces, juice, peel, cream, oil and sauce. In addition, canned truffles are supplied - whole and crushed. I must say that the delivery of truffles to our country began with canned food intended for inexpensive western restaurants. However, today their purchase has decreased significantly. Preference is given to fresh mushrooms, which are delivered to Russia in dark and cold (from 0 to + 4 ° C) containers in small batches each week. The truffle classes are brought unwashed and unwashed, in a restaurant they are subjected to dry processing, gently sweeping the sand with a brush, and placed in a refrigerator where it is stored at a temperature of + 2-3 ° C for 2-3 days in a sealed container, wrapped in a paper napkin or peppered with rice. The disadvantage of the second method is that, along with the moisture that is detrimental to the fungus, the grain no less intensively absorbs the flavor - the main advantage of truffles. There are other, less benign ways of long-term storage of delicate goods: “Truffles are washed, cleaned and placed in a jar, for example, with olive oil, which is later used to make sauces,” says Roman Rozhnikovsky, co-owner of the Nostalgi restaurant. - You can store truffles in alcohol or brandy. However, true connoisseurs of truffles still prefer raw mushrooms. And if they are cooked, then in order that the black truffle does not lose its taste and aroma, it is placed in the oven for only 5 minutes, previously wrapped in foil. By the way, in all the old recipes for cooking dishes from truffles, the same principle of minimal heat treatment is observed. To bake or fry truffles is like making black caviar paste. ”Due to the pronounced qualities of the product -rich taste and long aftertaste - truffles are used exclusively as an additive to the main dish. Mushroom is cut into as thin as possible or, as experts say, shave just before serving with a special spatula. Then it is spread on a warm dish, and it immediately begins to exude a strong flavor. In restaurants, you can order fresh truffles as an additive to any dish. On a miniature scale, the waiter weighs the mushroom with the client, cuts the required quantity and weighs it again. The average price in restaurants in Moscow is 5 y. e. for 1 gram of black truffle. “The amount of truffle added to a dish on the client’s request depends mainly on the customer’s wallet. The average order is 5 grams per dish, rarely exceeding 8-10 grams, ”says E. Zapolsky. However, all these grams ultimately add up to quite impressive numbers: about 5–10 kg of truffles are consumed per year in a trendy restaurant. What dishes can decorate a truffle? Have many generations of truffle gourmets succeeded in deducing the laws of its compatibility with other products, or does the compatibility depend on the chef's fantasies? The variety of truffle dishes of the national French cuisine at first glance does not allow to trace some unifying principle. “Generally speaking, truffle is combined with everything,” E. Zapolsky is convinced. “However, being a product with a characteristic taste and smell that determines the taste of the dish as a whole, it still wins in the“ passive taste ”dishes made from products that do not have their own distinctly pronounced taste.”So, according to the French, all recipes with trufflesmust be prepared on the basis of eggs (omelets, beaten eggs, souffles with truffles). Truffles also accompany poultry dishes, served with lobster, used in sauces. The truffle menu of the Nostalgie restaurant includes lobster salad with Nice vegetables and black truffle sauce, among other things. For those who love to gluttonize "by the rules" - another tip about the principles of compatibility of dishes from truffles with wines. When choosing a wine, you can advise to follow the principle of proximity to taste, or, conversely, the principle of contrast. Of the white wines, the Burgundian Grand Cru, Meursault will suit truffles, and the Cahors and Bordeaux red ones. For those who are ready for gastronomic adventures, there are no restrictions on the use of truffles. Any, the most unexpected combinations are possible, which, however, can only be appreciated by creative and free-thinking experimenters: “We had a dessert on the menu resembling tiramisu, but with a truffle flavor. I was delighted, but the guests were not, ”recalls R. Rozhnikovsky. In fact, not everyone is able to experience gastronomic delight at the truffle. What is the cause of the centuries-old hype around this unsightly fungus? The answer to this question is different for each truffle expert. The version of the attractiveness of truffles from R. Rozhnikovsky seems to explain the feeling of many: “Truffle is not food, but a catalyst for pleasure.”