This is a tuber of unusual flavor and aroma. It is savored in Italian and French cookery, and due to its scarcity, draws a very high price. The truffle has yet to be successfully cultivated, though a fine substitute is now being grown in California. The black truffle of Perigord and the white truffle of Piedmont are highly prized for their exceptional flavors. The black truffle requires cooking to allow the flavors to be fully achieved. Conversely, the white truffle is best when shaved directly on the dish before eating. The aroma of truffles is strong enough to permeate egg shells when the two are stored together. Due to their short growing season and large demand, truffles can reach a price of up to $800 per pound. Frozen and canned forms are more accessible, but their taste never reaches that of fresh truffles.
A truffle is the fruiting body of a subterranean Ascomycete fungus, predominantly one of the many species of the genus Tuber. Truffles are ectomycorrhizal fungi and are therefore usually found in close association with tree roots. Spore dispersal is accomplished through fungivores, animals that eat fungi.
Some of the truffle species are highly prized as food. French gourmet Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin called truffles “the diamond of the kitchen”. Edible truffles are held in high esteem in French, Italian, Ottoman, Middle Eastern and Spanish cuisine, as well as in international haute cuisine.