I want to introduce you to my Family and our products, because I know the history of our business and the origin of every single truffle. Here, in the very heart of Italy, the green Umbria, my family and co-workers are devoted to the search and prepare truffles, with relentless dedication to provide the best quality and freshness of our product.
After a careful selection, the truffles are sold fresh, frozen or as sauces. With you, still valuing natural products and fragrances, we would like to have a direct relationship, so we can let you know how beautiful the world of truffles is and how many secrets Umbria hides.
The team of Il tartufo di Paolo today is the result of a long love story between my father Paolo and the truffle. Everything started when his dog, the little Pearl (rare and precious as pearls on the bottom of the sea are) found by chance a first semi-hidden treasure. The truffle was emerging from the ground, as if it was meant to be found by Pearl, for him to start this beautiful adventure. Then, the first partners started working with Paolo bringing along new clients, and we took part in our first food’s fairs, which launched Il tartufo di Paolo on the national scene, as a young and ambitious company.
Claudia, my mother, was persistent and thoroughly keeping count of each single truffle entering our company, until one day she had to deal as well with the arrival of the second child: me. Despite the two children to take care of, she kept the lead of our company, supporting its growth and evolution. Today my brother Emanuele and me are part of Il Tartufo di Paolo, two volcanoes of ideas and innovations and the engine towards new countries and horizons.
This is why we are talking to you today. Thanks to our energy, with our passion for the vast green and healthy landscape, out of love for the people and their stories and the desire of help others to discover hiden places, Emanuele and me founded TRUFFLING – a very innovative idea of hunting for truffles and, at the same time, of enjoying culture, tradition and remote Italian villages.
Truffling is a new way of dealing with truffles and therefore with our culture and people as well.
We would like to itroduce you to the old and inimitable tradition of this piece of land, to inspire your enthusiasm and passion for the unique land of Italy.
Nacque da un fulmine di Zeus, percio la sua origine e’ divina.
Cresce in silenzio, nascosto tra radici e terra fina.
La sua gloria aumenta nel rumore die mercati,
ma il suo trionfo vero e’ nei piatti prelibati.
E per ampliare ancora il suo gia grande onore
Induce dopo il pasto i desideri dell’amore.
Die piu preziosi aromi egli e’ il sorao antico.
Ecco il ReTartufo: Tuber Magnatum Pico!“
(„Quattro rime sul tartufo“ di Giordano Berti)
Truffles are the fruiting body of mushrooms that grow and live underground, which is why they are hypogene mushrooms. They spontaneously grow in the soil on the roots of some trees and tree plants, establishing a symbiotic relationship with them. This symbiotic relationship, called mycorrhiza, is a relationship through which truffles produce the precious sporocarp. The exchange of substances between the truffle and the plant takes place at a fundamental level. Truffles belong to the tuberaceae family, to the tuber genus, class of ascomycetes.
The truffle has a fleshy mass called “gleba”, the color of which varies from pink to gray, white, brown and can be traversed by veins – a mass covered by a sort of bark called “peridium” which can be smooth or wrinkled depending on the species and the soil in which it grows. On its surface there are more or less wide veins that delimit the alveoli, in which large cells (the axes) containing the spores are immersed. The shape of the peridium, the gleba, the aschi and the spores allow you to recognize and identify the type of truffle.
The tuber is made of a high percentage of water, fibers and mineral salts, organic substances supplied by the tree with which it lives in symbiosis. For 80% of its mass, the truffle is composed of water, while the remaining 20% consist of ash, non-protein nitrogen, proteins, lipids, soluble carbohydrates and dietary fiber. The shape depends a lot on the soil in which it develops: a soft soil favors the growth of a spherical-shaped truffle, while a hard, stony soil with many roots, favors a lumpy shape.
BELLA ITALIA AND ITS TRUFFLES
It is precisely in our beautiful Italy that the greatest variety of edible species of truffles is found, different species and subspecies, including black or white truffles, some more, some lesser valuable. Every season in Italy has its corresponding type of truffles. The temperate climate, the heat of the summer, protection of the landscape, the balance of the minerals contained in the soil – all these factors made Italy the ideal home for the truffle. Currently there are more than 60 species of mushrooms classified as Tuber in the world, but only nine are considered edible and only six of them are marketed and generally available. The best known and appreciated for gastronomic use are: The fine white, the bianchetto, the fine black from Norcia, the hooked, the muscat and the black summer truffle. Italy is the nation that produces the most truffles. It has developed precise rules and some prohibitions, like a specific collection calendar that varies slightly from region to region. We will take look at the calendar for Umbria, one of the most suitable lands for the production of truffles and nothing less than the green heart of our beloved land. The periods of collection of the various species of truffle are assigned by state and regional regulations, giving the provinces the opportunity to specify the calendar in relation to the characteristics of various territories. Keeping in mind the fact that the collection of truffles is prohibited for all species for almost all of May and September, the calendar of the harvest in Umbria follows these times:
• White truffle: from the last Sunday of September to December 31st.
• Precious black truffle: from December 1st to March 15th.
• Muscat truffle: from December 1st to March 15th.
• Summer black truffle: from the last Sunday of May to August 31st.
• Hook truffle: from October 1st to January 31st.
• Winter black truffle: from January 1st to March 15th.
• Bianchetto truffle: from January 15th to April 15th
To be qualified as “extra quality” a truffle must be rather regular, without defects and spots and has to have an intense aroma.
If it does not fulfill all three of these characteristics, is free from defects and retains a good perfume it can be classified in the “first choice” category.
When the examples are presented with defects, they are downgraded and qualified instead as second or third choice. The scent of the truffle can also depend on the tree with which it is in symbiosis. For example, the most intense perfume of Tuber melanosporum can be found in truffles collected under the holm oak, while tuber magnatum are usually considered the most exquisite when harvested under the beech. Truffles growing under linden can be recognized because they develop a red stained glebe, whereas the glebe stays rather light, when growing under pink beech, brown oak, willow or poplar.
The perfume can be more or less pointed, more or less persistent, also in relation to the place of its origin.
At present it is not possible to quantify the worlds or any national production of truffles, one can only estimate – but it is certain that most of the truffles from Italy are destined for the best tables in the world, in particular the fine qualities, whether whites or blacks.
Truffle hunting is a beautiful activity that allows men to be in contact with nature and their dogs. This quest requires passion, technique and also good legs to catch up with the hunting dogs. In fact, not only do you need to have an excellently trained dog to be considered a truffle hunter, but above all you need a certain consistancy in practicing this activity because you have to acquire some experience.
The indispensable ability of a truffle hunter is to know the place where the truffles are to be found, called a pasture. To find the exact location of the precious tuber the truffle hunter uses a dog.
All quadruped are trainable for truffle hunting, but of course there are various factors that influence the success of training your four-legged friend, including the desire to learn, the breed and its age. Normally it is preferred to start training with a few months old and purebred puppy, or at least a well-defined crossbreed.
The usually chosen breeds for searching truffles are hunting dogs, bracchi, pointer, cocker, spinon, breton, griffoni and lagotto which belongs to the only breed officially recognized as specialized in the search for truffles.
When a truffle is extracted from the ground, it is of fundamental importance that the seeker replaces the removed soil, so that new rootlets can form and therefor a new fruiting body may develop.
THE TRUFFEL IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
The first true testimony of truffle hunting in Europe, can be found in Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia (23-79 AD). The anecdotes listed revealed that truffles, in Latin known as terrae tuber (growth of the earth) or simply tuber, where very popular with ancient Romans who copied the culinary from the ancient Etruscans. But also the Greeks used the truffle in their kitchen. The philosopher Plutarch of Cheronea, in arround the same time (1st century AD), had passed on the idea, that the rare and precious mushroom would grow when strong natural forces, such as water, heat and lightning, came together. This theory further developed, through the works of the poet Juvenal, according to which the truffle originated from a lightning thrown onto an oak by the father of the gods, Jupiter. In addition, given that Jupiter was famous for his prodigious sexual activity, the truffle is considered a potent aphrodisiac. Based on this power, another legend tells the pagans dedicated it to the goddess Venus. Although the precious mushroom was subject to scholars, philosophers and poets, the real origin of the truffle was never found. Because very little is known of its origin and combined with the popular belief truffles are a form of degenerative growth of the soil, over the years it was seen as food for the devil or witches.
In the Middle Ages knowledge about truffles was lost until it reappeared in the Renaissance on the tables of the noble Caterina de Medici and Lucrezia Bolgia, as well as on the most prestigious banquets in Europe. The first real treatise entirely concerning the truffle was written by the Umbrian doctor Alfonso Ciccarelli in 1564 entitled “Opusculus de tuberis”. In the same century, Andrea Cesalpino also named different truffles among other mushrooms for the first time. In that time in Europe the truffle was also called “garlic of the rich”, because of its slight smell simmilar to the garlic plant and because it was not found in considerable quantities. In Piedmont, in 1600 AD, truffles became a significant consumable imitating Frenche trend. Unlike the transalpine state, where black truffles were found, white ones were consumed in the Piedmont region. A century later the Piedmontese white truffle was considered as one of the most valuable things by all European courts. In fact, the search for truffles was considered to be a royal activity for which foreign guests and ambassadors were invited to participate.
PROSPECTOR AND DOG: THE TALE OF THE TRUFFLE HUNTER
The figure of the prospector is a romantic figure around which legends, stories and superstitious rites unfold. His clothings where those used by the peasant, a handkerchief in the neck looks like a short cape. Together with the prospectors range of activities, situated in the impervious woods, his unusual working hours, strictly at night, and his typical hunting dog, the prospector is far from being an ancient and past profession, but is still a fascinating figure. According to tales of todays trifolau, the prospector used to be a normal farmer who, on a beautiful day in the fields, tried to integrate the search for truffles in their daily routines.
Today there are about 5000 people with the hobby of looking for truffles. From teachers to pensioners to research professionals, everyone strolls for one reason: the passion for the hunt. And this passion that drives the trifolau of our times everywhere is a true “hereditary disease”, it is passed on from generation to generation. Even today the prospector roams at night, but not, as legend has it, for superstitious reasons, but because modern day prospectors work during the day and the dogs used to look for the truffles can do so without seeing. It is a passion that requires great patience that must be carried out without haste.
While it once was enough to dig into the earth with a hoe, nowadays the very fine nose of the dog, trained to recognize the aroma of truffle, is indispensable. There are several training centers, but it is usually the prospectors themselves who train the dog to chase for the aroma of the truffles.
The prospector then moves following precise rules. Knowing the exact area and time of appearance of truffles he carefully removes the soil with a hoe to extract the truffle with maximum delicacy to preserve the subsequent formation of new fruiting bodies.
To dedicate yourself to the activity, a special certificate is needed, which you can only get if you pass an exam that allows you to carry out the collection activity.
The restriction of this certificate is necessary, so nobody will ruin the work of the professionals and the reputation of our prospector.
A SUGGESTION BY PAOLO
Since they grow underground, truffles must be carefully cleaned and washed before they can be used. They can be brushed under cold running water and then dried with a cloth; they can sometimes be delicately stripped of external peel with a potato peeler or a sharp knife. The fruit, if properly cleaned, can then be used as a flavoring for risotto, salads, ravioli fillings, seasoning oils, mixtures (dried) for roasts and sauces etc.
A word of advice: to properly slice truffles, it is advisable to use a truffle cutter.
For its conservation it is advisable to wrap it in absorbent paper, place it inside a plastic or glass container and place the latter in the lower part of the refrigerator (0/4°C)up to a maximum of 2/3 days. If you want to use it beyond this time, we recommend freezing. Consumed moderately it stimulates digestion, has only 31 Kcal per 100 grams and is considered a dish with aphrodisiac properties.
A LITTLE RECIPE
Tagliatelle di castagne al tartufo estivo
Ingredients for four people
200 g flour 0
125 g chestnut flour
Lukewarm water for kneading
For the seasoning
30 g dried chestnuts
80 g fresh summer truffle
1 clove of garlic
Oil as required
A few drops of black truffle oil
Start by putting a pile of flour on your work surface and add as much lukewarm water as needed to make a smooth and firm dough that does not stick to the hands while it is being worked. Work long.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin or with the help of the appropriate pasta machine and make noodles from it. The pasta must not be pulled too thin, otherwise it will not hold when cooking.
Meanwhile, boil the chestnuts, previously soaked in water. They must have a pasty consistency. Use a blender to grind the cooked chestnuts. Add the chestnuts to the grated truffle. Heat oil with garlic. Remove the garlic as soon as it starts to color and turn off the stove before pouring the mass of chestnuts and truffles into the flavored oil. In the meantime cook the pasta in well salted water, wait for it to boil again and drain. Season all and serve, grating abundant truffle over the finished dish.
VENITECI A TROVARE!