The shroud of mystery around truffles is part of their allure. They’re the fruiting body of subterranean fungi and can only be located by scent; and their scent is infinitely seductive, but also fleeting. Once taken from the ground, their fragrance and potency only lasts a few days—at most a couple of weeks. Add to their diva-like characteristics a high market value and rarity, and they are just not common fare in the United States. On occasion, articles pop up about them that often help fuel misconceptions rather than illuminate truffles.
Recently, blogger Foodsherpa wrote an article “Q&A Difference Between White and Black Truffle” so full of inaccuracies, we hope this blogger attends the 2015 Napa Truffle Fest! Robert Chang of American Truffle Company offers the following responses/clarifications.
Statement: “Most chefs agree that … black truffles are best cooked.”
Response: “Both white and black truffles have fragrant compounds that dissipate rapidly with cooking. Every chef worth their salt will agree raw black truffles are much more potent than cooked black truffles. It also makes perfect sense from a biochemistry perspective. The compounds responsible for the fragrance in all truffles have low boiling points. With any kind of heat they are gone – unless you stick the truffle slices in an enclosed environment, like under the skin of a roasted chicken. Then the aroma gets trapped inside. But that doesn’t make cooking them better.”
Statement: “Black winter truffles are the most sought after truffle”
Response: “The white Italian truffle (Tuber magnaturm pico) is the most sought after, and the most expensive.”
Statement: “If you don’t want to use fresh truffles in your cooking or you cannot find them, it may be a good idea to invest in a bottle of truffle oil.”
Response: “Truffle oil is a synthetic chemical imitation of real truffles—a steroid version that tastes as bad as it sounds.”
To learn more about one of the most elusive and delicious of foods, come to the Napa Truffle Festival January 16th-19th.