The truffle, tartufo in Italian, has been known for centuries as a precious culinary delicacy throughout the world. This rare and dainty mushroom was known to be part of the diet of populations dating back to 17001600 BC. The truffle, also known as the King of the Table, is something deeply rooted in the Italian culinary tradition, especially within Tuscany. Since the time of the Etruscans, and later the Romans, the truffle has been widely used and highly demanded.
The Romans in particular were so fond of this rare delicacy as to attribute to the truffle a divine origin. Due to the difficulties arising from the attempts of sowing this particular type of mushroom, an ancient Roman writer theorised that the truffle was created by a combination of water, heat and thunder. As these are the symbols of Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Zeus, the truffle acquired a reputation as a food of the gods, even a powerful aphrodisiac, and consequently became highly in demand and extremely expensive.
For a relatively long period in history, mainly the Middle Ages, the people considered the truffle to be the Devil’s food. However with the Renaissance the use of the truffle for cooking or medical remedies boomed, until it became essential for the rich to always have it on their table. Since then the truffle increased in popularity that has made it one of the most expensive and rare products on the market.
If the truffle itself can be very difficult to find in the wilderness, it is very common to find it in restaurants and shops all around Tuscany. When traveling in the countryside surrounding Siena or Florence, you can always find regional dishes or specialties served with truffle, or numerous shops selling fresh truffle or a combination of truffle flavoured cheeses, cured meats or even in the form of spreads or creamy sauces. All equally delicious.
It would be a shame to visit Italy and deny yourself of this delicate, flavourful experience, as Tuscany has some of the world’s most renowned truffle species.
Allow us to take you back to the time in history in which hunting for truffles was considered an amusing event exclusively available to the wealthiest people. Satisfy your curiosity by accompanying a professional and experienced “tartufaio” and his loyal dog for a pleasant hike through the ancient Tuscan woods in which for centuries the most knowledgeable men have long looked for truffles. Learn to recognize the signs and the trees most likely to host truffles by their roots. Moreover don’t forget to enjoy the truffles you will find by tasting them on top a delicious meal.