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It’s definitely an acquired taste – and an expensive one at that. But those who love truffles will go to great lengths to find them.
There’s a special kind of mushroom that grows underground, close to the roots of trees, and which can only be found by specially trained dogs or pigs. They can be either white or black, have a strong flavor and a pungent odor, and are truly a luxury item.
Some unusual examples are often sold at auction, reaching prices of around $5,500 per kilo. The most famous truffles are found in Italy and France, both countries which can boast a long tradition of using them to accompany a variety of dishes.
They can be grated fresh on to pasta, or used to flavor a wide range of products, including meat and salamis. Last year, the world record for the most expensive truffle was broken: found in the Tuscan countryside in Italy, this example weighed more than 900 grams and was bought at auction by a Chinese millionaire, Stanley Ho, for $330,000.
The biggest truffle ever recorded, however, was found three years ago, again in Tuscany – it weighed in at 1.5 kilos.
There’s one event from the world of truffles which is truly not to be missed: the truffle festival in Alba, in Italy’s Piedmont region. 2011 edition will take place from the 8th October to the 13th November. For more information and the complete programme click here