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Mushroom Sex
March 30, 2010 5:48 AM   Subscribe

"People who use sows to hunt for truffles often find it hard to prevent a sex-crazed animal from eating the truffle she has found and may lose fingers in the attempt." (via) The NYT on decoding the genome of the Périgord Black Truffle . Attempts to make truffles cheaper and more accessible in the past have been met with some resistance.
posted by The Whelk (32 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
you are seriously insane *shakes head* oh no not the palm on face
posted by infini at 6:10 AM on March 30, 2010


From the NY Times article:

He hurled the oil at the side of the building, smashing the glass bottles against the wall. “It’s full of chemicals,”

Sigh. Everything is "full of chemicals." I fully understand that a real truffle is more complex and subtle than truffle oil, which is a largely one-note taste/scent. That being said, there's such an off-putting snobbishness about things sometimes. People call technology "fake" or "false" as though enjoying technology is bad. As though a flawless synthetic diamond somehow isn't as beautiful as a "real" one.

Disdain for truffle oil because it's cheating the customer out of the full gustatory experience of truffles? I'm OK with that. Disdain because it "cheapens" the experience by democratizing the rare experience? Bullshit. It's the same as hipster disdain for bands that "sell out."
posted by explosion at 6:21 AM on March 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


I can't wait until the truffle shuffle becomes the next macho club cliche on the Jersey shore without even a hint of irony.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:21 AM on March 30, 2010


Why don't they put muzzles on 'em.

The pigs that is. Not the truffles. That wouldn't make any sense.
posted by delmoi at 6:23 AM on March 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


All types of truffle preparations have their use - it depends what you're trying to achieve really. Truffle oil is also a good way to get a handle on how truffles change the flavour of dishes. Given the expense of the real thing, it's good to work up to them. Truffle paste is useful too in this respect.
posted by treblekicker at 6:25 AM on March 30, 2010


Sigh. Everything is "full of chemicals." I fully understand that a real truffle is more complex and subtle than truffle oil, which is a largely one-note taste/scent.

Okay, but I wouldn't have known that "truffle oil" was just an artificial flavoring. Usually "X Oil" denotes something that was actually made from whatever item. This is just grape oil with artificial flavoring. Truffle Oil has no more to do with Truffles then the artificial grape flavor found jolly ranchers has to do with actual grapes, apparently.
posted by delmoi at 6:29 AM on March 30, 2010


Not true. It's a not bad approximation and like I say, a good place to start if you want to learn more about how truffles flavour stuff.
posted by treblekicker at 6:35 AM on March 30, 2010


Don't the fly's eggs and larvae degrade the edibility of the truffle? It seems the opposite is the case. "If collected at late maturation stages, the truffles will likely carry eggs and larvae - adding proteins and aroma to the truffle," Dr. Martin said.

Way more proteins and aroma than I need. Black truffle removed from Things To Try list.
posted by The Mouthchew at 6:36 AM on March 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


When I was studying abroad in Norway there was a German girl in the program who was big into mushrooms. She said her parents used to call her 'trufflesvin' (pardon my spelling, I know nothing of German), or 'truffle swine' because she was a) mad about truffles and b) apparently pretty good at finding them. I kept up with her pretty well considering Norway was bursting with mushrooms, and I found the only patch of cantarellas from the whole trip-- good christ they were good-- but she still tended to find more. Still, I was a novice, so I was pretty happy with my performance. To my knowledge she never bit anyone's fingers off, although she probably would have liked to. We didn't exactly get along.

And I don't feel so bad about it all now knowing how truffles get around. Pigs, dogs, squirrels, flies, etc.? Sounds like almost everybody can find a truffle. But cantarella... there's a prize mushroom!

(No but seriously she was really good at it; truffles were hard to find. Mushrooms amaze me because it seems we still know so little about them, there are so many deadly/toxic ones, and we keep eating them anyway... and I probably shouldn't have considering my experience was a one-week crash course in Norwegian mushrooms, some of them with very toxic look-alikes, from an at least very mushroom-savvy Finnish girl.)
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 6:38 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


A synthetic oil infusion
Engenders this yuppie confusion:
They can't understand it--
They failed Organic,
Whence comes their disdain and delusion.
posted by The White Hat at 6:39 AM on March 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


Disdain for truffle oil because it's cheating the customer out of the full gustatory experience of truffles? I'm OK with that. Disdain because it "cheapens" the experience by democratizing the rare experience? Bullshit. It's the same as hipster disdain for bands that "sell out."

As long as we enforce food labelling (and food safety), everything's cool with me. Just make sure that the 'truffle oil' indicates somewhere on the label that no actual truffles were involved.

On the other hand, if someone is adding some cheap chemicals to turn a $5 ordinary bottle of olive oil into a $25 bottle of "truffle oil", I might be a little offended by the markup.
posted by gimonca at 7:08 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


He hurled the oil at the side of the building, smashing the glass bottles against the wall. “It’s full of chemicals,”

Truffle infusion causes scuffle / confusion.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:14 AM on March 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


Hopefully it will get widely known that most 'truffle oil' does not involve truffles in any significant way. Then prices of synthetic oil will drop. And everybody will start to use it and it will become a common ingredient. Just like happened to a lot of condiments, spices and herbs. Cloves were incredibly expensive f.i. in the 17th century. Parmiggiano reggiano was very hard to find and expensive in the 70s.
But how are restaurants going to advertise "I'm a good restaurant, better than the rest" if perfuming their place by serving truffle special won't do the trick anymore?
posted by joost de vries at 7:19 AM on March 30, 2010


Disdain because it "cheapens" the experience by democratizing the rare experience? Bullshit.

There is a difference between buying mushrooms in a can (or some derivative or synthetic product) and walking through the forest on a warm summer day looking for Kantarelles and Karl Johan mushrooms (and by way of lagniappe stumbing across some wild strawberries and blueberries to throw in the bucket.)

Even if there were no difference in the taste, the experience adds flavor that everyone should get to enjoy.
posted by three blind mice at 7:59 AM on March 30, 2010


Seconding joost's hope, above; no lie, I would kill to try a Baja Truffle Chalupa from Taco Bell.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:05 AM on March 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


I also didn't know about truffle oil. Truffle butter is made with real mushrooms, though, right?
posted by paisley henosis at 8:09 AM on March 30, 2010


You can get real truffle oil, but it is very expensive. It also has a stronger aroma than the fake stuff, but the flavor is more subtle. A drop on top of a piping hot plate of beans is quite tasty.
posted by ryoshu at 8:17 AM on March 30, 2010


Previously on the blue.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:19 AM on March 30, 2010


I've lived most my life in Michigan, where the elusive morel mushroom is king of the fungal heap. It has an aroma and flavor that is absolutely amazing. Sadly, for me, it exists only in my memory - in one fleeting, hazy moment of my life before I was rushed to the hospital after experiencing a severe allergic reaction from eating a morel mushroom. It was simply amazing. They're quite elusive little things, though once when I had retreated to the forest I experienced something entirely unexpected. I was spending four days alone in the woods, hiking the hills and valleys, when I descended into a dried lake bed. It was the second day of my journey. In the the basin was the largest patch of morel mushrooms I'd ever seen or heard of. There were literally thousands of them, some of them almost a foot tall. All of them completely deadly to me. Had I some mechanism for removing them from the woods I could have sold them for some obscene amount of money. Or I could have feasted, Bachus-like, a roaring fire and me fatted on delicious mushrooms, just prior to leaving this earthly coil in a glorious fit of anaphylaxis. I shook my head and hiked away. That lake bed now lives only in my memory alongside the incredible flavor of the only morel I've ever eaten.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:53 AM on March 30, 2010 [31 favorites]


Damn that is wistful, Baby_Balrog! Excellent story! It has a heart, and teaches us a morel lesson.
posted by Mister_A at 9:15 AM on March 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


He hurled the oil at the side of the building, smashing the glass bottles against the wall. “It’s full of chemicals,”

The great truffle kerfluffle of 2010.

The current issue of Scientific American has a good story on truffles but you have to pay to read the online version.
posted by TedW at 9:21 AM on March 30, 2010


You can read the Scientic American article for free here [PDF].
posted by MuffinMan at 9:32 AM on March 30, 2010


Scientic?

Scientific.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:32 AM on March 30, 2010


Also previously. "The pig is not content to wag his tail and point when he has discovered a truffle. He wants to eat it. In fact, he is desperate to eat it."
posted by Behemoth at 9:38 AM on March 30, 2010


cowpie. that's all I have to say about this
posted by infini at 9:42 AM on March 30, 2010


I can't wait for Truffle flavored Cheetos.
posted by benzenedream at 10:17 AM on March 30, 2010


According to Wikipedia, truffles were a much more available ingredient in 1900s Europe. But the combined attrition of French farmers due to urbanization as well as loss of trufficulture techniques due to human deaths in WWI resulted in the collapse of the industry.
posted by polymodus at 11:11 AM on March 30, 2010


Full democratization = truffle cheese whiz

I never would have guessed before on my own that truffle oil had little to do with real truffles. I thought the missing complexity was because a lot of the depth volatilized off in the process. Still, it has its place, just like vanillin is better for baking, and real vanilla is better for applications where it is not exposed to heat for too long. Or how fake maple syrup is better for foisting off on unsuspecting children or unwary tourists while the adults/locals hoard the good stuff.

Some of us are still under the delusion that imported olive oil is mostly from olives.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:13 PM on March 30, 2010


The Sneaky World of Counterfeit Food.
posted by benzenedream at 1:48 PM on March 30, 2010


Found a truffle in my backyard, my garden specifically, in a potato bed. I had no idea what it was at first. I asked AskMe but ended up figuring it out with local help.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:30 PM on March 30, 2010


Found a truffle in my backyard, my garden specifically, in a potato bed.

!!!
posted by Wolof at 11:51 PM on March 30, 2010


"People who use sows to hunt for truffles often find it hard to prevent a sex-crazed animal from eating the truffle she has found and may lose fingers in the attempt."

That's how I feel when someone stands between me and mozzarella sticks.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:25 AM on March 31, 2010


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