History of The Truffle

By nicko, Feb 17, 2010 | | |
  1. A rare fungus that grows underground (only several inches below ground). They come in both white and black varieties. Not all truffles are created equal, as there can be considerable quality differences between truffles due to ripeness and location of harvest. Truffles have a pungent, almost magical flavor that is greatly appreciated among gourmets.

    La Truffe

    A fungus that grows under certain trees mainly Oaks, but also chestnut, hazel and Beech

    Arguments amongst truffle scholars

    The name comes from the Latin Tuber or Tubera, meaning outgrowth or Excrescence. Sadly they are not mentioned in none of the books that comprise the bible, some Authors do bring the truffle to the time of Jacob but those sources give reason for arguments. Then to tell that the Egyptians ate truffles coated in goose fat and cooked en Papillote, seam to be part of an argument. Difficult to say about the “Pomme d’amour”as some translators brought them to be such item the truffle.

    Despite those arguments, how can we not believe that the prehistoric

    Men and Women, who lived in Perigord, at the heart of the truffle county of France, would have ignore the truffle? The presence of truffle productions very near the entrances of those caves would have never let indifferent those men and women, when we take into account the extraordinary acuteness of their animal senses, notably from the subtle scent for vital necessity.

    It is near certain that the truffle came from Libya (Cyrenaique and Marmarique at the time)

    Living in France near the region Perigord, I have decided after been told that the restaurant will be close tomorrow (the 31st of December 2011, I will take the car and drive to the Market of Sarlat. a medieval town but a market of professional truffle hunters. the town is well known all over the world for the food items of qualities of the Perigord region..

    I am investigating a subject that is dear to me and my childhood. as my grand father was  truffle hunter in the region of Burgundy. then it is in my obligation to write an Article about the subject and the findings that I have made and investigating though reads and others books and etc .... which I will give details off and translate the best that I can with pictures of my own and old one.................

    Happy reading feasting as the season of the truffle has open in France.

    Species of truffles

    The White truffle or Alba madonna (Tuber magnatum) from Langhe and Montferrat areas Piedmon Italy found around Asti and Alba cities it can be found in Tuscany and also in Croatia. They can reach 12 cm and 500gr, it is the most Aromatic

    The Tuber Magnatum pico found mostly in Italy not so aromatic

    The Tuber borchii slightly white

    The Black truffle from Périgord (the Tuber melanosporum) a small amount of that variety grows in Slovania,Croatia and Australia. That spices can be found in of region of france  than the Périgord, such as Provence (Vaucluse and Alpes de Haute Provence), Dauphiné (La Drôme)

    They ar classed as different categories following their qualities.

    Category 1 or 2 (2 are bad! No smell! Not much taste!. Well ghost truffle! J to be able to bring the taste you have to cook them and flavour them with good things!)

    The Truffles from Sainte Alvére

    The Tuber Melanosporum can only be admitted into the category of truffle of Sainte Alvére if it is classified as been from the category 1

    The Tuber Aestivum that one can be harvested between mai and September sometime after

    The Tuber Brumale harvested between November and Mars

    La Tuber Uncinatum the cosine from the Burgundy truffle very rare in Périgord can be found during the best season been September and December

    The Burgundy Truffle

    The Tuber Aestivum / uncinatum found across Europe and some part of  North Africa

    2 varieties the one harvested in autumn until December and the one harvested in the summer with an aroma less pronounced

    The Chinese Truffle

    The tuber Sinensis also call Tuber Indicum is a winter truffle harvested in china, imported to the west but with an inferior quality. Some delicatessen sell Chinese truffles into which extracts of the real Melanosporum are added an sold as marked tuber Melanosporum

    The tuber Himalayensis and a third type of summer white truffle  not yet named

    The Dessert Truffle

    Also called Terfez, Terfas or Terfeziaceae lives in the Mediterranean region, north Africa and the middle east

    The Origine of the Word Truffe and its evolution

    Greek: Hudnon which became Hydnum and then Hydne

    Latin:  Tuber  which became and used for Tubercule or Tubereux

              Tufer  which became Trufa in ancien Provencal then Truffe

          Terrea Tuber/Tufer which became Tartuffoli and Tartufo in Italian which became then  Tartuffe and Cartouffle tartoufle Kartoffel in german (Potatoe)

    other Latin Rapa became Raba in ancien provencal rabasse, rabasso, Rave, and Betterave (Beetroot)

    Rabassaire means "a Truffle Merchand" 

    The History through the era's of the Truffle

    The Greeks

    The most ancient Author who wrote about them, seams to be Theophrastus (372-287 BC) who explains the origin of the truffle that way (Vegetables brought by the autumn rains with the rumblings of thunder!”

    Plutarch (Plutarque Greek writer) Asked

    “Since, during storms, flames leap from the humid vapours and dark clouds emit deafening noises, is it surprising, when it strikes the ground, give rise to truffles, which not resemble plants?”

    greeks started the fashion to employed Truffle with Geese dishes

    In the Antiquity the truffle is part of the Mythology

    Hephaistos God forger took from its apron a ball with which it gave its colour and texture.

    Dionysos gave its seasonal cycle

    Aphrodite gave its Love subtleties and Aphrodisiac virtues

    Ariane buried it under moss between 2 oak trees

    Zeus with one lightening strike fertilized the earth to give birth to the item.

    The Greek’s knew several varieties of Truffles

    The Romans

    The truffle had a good place on the tables of Lucullus.

    The last of the Apicius (celebrated master in the art of eating in Rome) sent to Trajan, in war against the Spartans, Truffles and Oysters.

    truffles were used as Paiements as well as certainly in political deals 

    Pline  did describe some varieties of truffle which mainly consume during that era. the desert Truffle is one of the variety (the Terfez)

    The Roman learnt from the Greek they used the truffle to go with geese dishes

    Apicius: The name of three Roman famous for their taste for good living

                                                                                Marcus Gavius Apicius

    Recipes of Apicius mentioning Truffles

    (1st ad) Brochettes of Truffles:  peel the truffles cook in water, sprinkle with salt and place them on a brochette, grill them slightly then place in a cocote some oil, some Garum*, some carenum*, some wine pepper and some honey, undo the brochette of truffles and serve>

    (1st ad) Truffles with wine or Garum*: boil the truffles with leeks then serve them with salt, pepper, freshly hop corriander, pure wine and a little oil. 

    Other: Pepper, Cumin, Silphium*, Mint, celery, rue*, honey, vinegar or wine salt or garum* and little oil

    The Greeks and the Romans attributed therapeutic and aphrodisiac power to them. The later quality was still recognized in the 19th century, when Alexander Dumas wrote “They can, on certain Occasions make women more tender and men more lovable.


    Carerum: Soft wine reduced to third, used for cooking

    Garum: a type of brine based upon divers Fish equivalent of far eastern Nuoc-Man seasoning of today

    Rue: an Herbe with small leaf with strong flavours liked in the Middle ages and the Antiquity

    Silphium: a plant not yet identified used during that era

    France time of Gaulles and middle ages 

    The truffles which were in Gaulle vanished during the barbarism cataclysm, and were not present in the middle –age recipes

    They were looked upon as a manifestation of evil.

    The Maures Knew the Truffle and the Arabes Doctor’s (physiciens) recommended the tuber for certain illness

    It is the darkest era for the truffle been viewed as the earth’s daughter, of the water and lightening, it is a produce from the devil the then cleric forbid its production

    During the middle ages the truffle got a reputation of been Diabolic and it is just a feed for the pigs, as the church viewed those animal as impure.

    Despite the nasty views of the fungi, the culinary usage of the fungi is only referenced t one place, at the pope court of Avignon. The secret harvest of the truffle in Provence was brought in the Pope’s kitchens.

    It is during at the end of the era during the renaissance that the truffle start to reappear again 

    14th Century (1300 / 1399)

    It is in the 14th century for the tuber to make its reappearance amongst the prince’s table, Charles V, Jean de France, Duke de Berry, Jeanne of Armagnac. Even then they all started to ignore the secrets virtues of the Tuber, that the Roman and Greeks thought of.

    Henri II knew about the white truffle Piémontaise (Tuber Magnatum) thanks to the Florentine’s cooks of Catherine de Medicis.

    “We served them cooked in water, without anything. The Rotisseurs jurist from the city of Paris, presented them “A l’Etouffée” served under serviettes with some white wines……”

    Mr Tirel Guillaume: “Taillevent”

    French Cook: Born:  Pont-Audermer, 1310

    Died: Pond-Audemer, 1395

    Books: “Le Viandier” 4 Manuscript were found by the Baron Jerome Pichon,

    which were published with the help of Mr Gabriel Vicaire in 1892, with explanatory about the author’s life & Career. It is the first known Cookery treatise

    Credits: “Cressoniere soup”, Aigo Boulido soup”, “Pithiviers”, “Pear in wine”, “Almond Blanc mange”, “Ham with Leeks”, “Salmon pate with Sorrel”

    Mr de Taillevent is the author of the oldest cookery book of his type.

    His name is found as far as 1926 in a manuscript describing the coronation of Jeanne d’Evreux, he was a kitchen boy at that time. Mr Tirel entered the service of numerous dignitaries. He cooked in the kitchen of Philipe de Valois, in the household of the Dauphin, for the Duke de Normandy, Charles the 5th & subsequently Charles the 6th.who ennobled him, he elevated him to “Master of the King’s kitchen”. He was nicknamed “Taillevent”, apparently by the length of his nose. (Shaped to carve the wind).

    The old word “Viande” means food stuff, not especially meat.

    He was commission by the king to write the treatise about all matter of food preparation of the time,

    (his influence was felt in Italy in Catherine de Medici’s kitchen).

    15th Century (1400 / 1499)

    they suffered a further eclipse

    16th Century (1500 / 1599)

    The Aphrodisiasm era of truffle touching the Kings of France and its princes started with Francois the 1st and its court. During its reign (1515 to 1547)

    An Italian doctor/alchemist Leonardo Fioravanti proposed a composed syrop with truffle peelings for cases of  weakness and tiredness he said to have prescribe that type of Aphrodisiac  to the spanish court.

    (recipe: truffle peelings, melisse (Molasse), Blessed thissle (it has to be a cosmetible thissle like the Roland or in medecine one can be used like Sea Holly), the all lot scented with Rose water and some Musk.

     17th Century (1600 / 1699)

    In the 17th century the practice of using Muzzled pigs to seek truffles became common

    Under King Louis XIV from 1643 to 1715 (his reign), the truffles have reigned supreme since.

    La Varenne recommended a ragout of dried or Fresh Mushroom as an entrée “Washed, cooked in wine, seasoned with salt and pepper, and served on a napkin or in a dish garnish with flowers.

    La Varenne: French Cook:

    Born: Dijon, 1618

    Died: Dijon, 1678

    Books: “Le Cuisinier François”, 1651, “ Le Patissier François”, 1653, “L’Ecole des Ragouts”, 1668

    Credits: ”Potage a la Reine”, Certainly “Duxelle”, “Soupresse (Terrine) of Fish”, “Tourte Admirable”

    Mr La Varenne was an important figure as important as Mr de Taillevent.

    He was in charge of the kitchens of the Marquis d’Uxelles, where the name of the mushroom puree certainly come from, as he perfected this.

    Previously that era the French cuisine was influence over the past 150 year with Italian cookery.

    During the era of Mr La Varenne, French Cooking found its own personality ounce again. He planed cookery books that have been consulted for Century, containing recipes that are still in use ever since. His “Potage a la reine” was dedicated to Marguerite de Navarre

    18th Century (1700 / 1799)

    In the 18thcentury their Origins were shrouded with mystery

    in the Encyclopedie from Diderot we can see some points of views, about the Medicinals values written about the truffle and its properties in the degustatives and its action upon the digestive system. citing upon the fact of using just the truffle for seasoning only and purely.

    In 1705 Nicolas Lemery a French Doctor and Chemist wrote “they are dogs which can detect them as well as pigs. Some peasants, in areas where truffles are found, have taught themselves to recognize the places where they are hidden”

    In 1711 Claude Joseph Geoffroy, a French botanist, publish a paper entitled “Vegetation de la Truffe”, which classified the truffle amongst Mushrooms.

    Mr Brillat-Savarin Jean-Anthelme

    French Magistrate

    Born: Belley, 1755

    Died: Saint Denis, 1826

    Books: “la Physiologie du Gout” 8 December 1825

    Credits: “Oreiller de la belle Aurore”, “ Croute Brillat-Savarin”, “Egg en cocotte Brillat-Savarin”, ”Flan Brillat-Savarin”, “Sweet Timbale Brillat-Savarin”.

    Mr Brillat-Savarin eldest of eight children, he spent all his youth in Bugey, where he became interested in cooking. His mother named Aurore, was an accomplish cook, were he started to have his interest in food. One of his aunt left her fortune to him, with the condition for him to take her name. He studied law, chemistry and Medicine in Dijon. He was called at the bar in Belley1789, he became of renown and been elected to numerous political bodies in Paris and in his region.

    Mr Brillat-Savarin was force into exile as the revolution tribunal found him too moderate and issue a summons against him, he departed to Switzerland, where he experience the gastronomy of the Jura, moved to Holland where he took a boat to United State. Where he stayed for three years, living on giving French lessons, and as a violinist with the John Street Theatre in New York.

    He discovered Roast Turkey and Welsh Rabbit, he taught a French Chef in Boston the art of the scramble egg, Mr Savarin further enjoyed “pot roasted Goose”, “Corn Beef” & “Punch” In 1797 his exile was terminated, he obtain a permission to return to his beloved country, sadly all his inheritances were lost,

    confiscated by the government, particularly a beloved Vineyard.

    After few odd jobs he was appointed Counsellor to the supreme court of Appeal, he stay in that position until his death. Some of his Favourite restaurant were he loved to enjoy good living, “le Grand Vefour”, Beauvilliers and Tortoni, he entertained a lot in his house, cooking dishes such as “Beef with Truffles”, “Tuna Omelette” & “Stuffed Pheasant”. Having survived the regimes and turmoil of the era, he caught a cold going to a mass in memory to the king Louis the 16th in Saint Denis.

    He died two month after the publication of his “Physiologie du Gout”.

    Mr Savarin made the culinary art a true science, which led to many people interest such as Mr Balsac, Mr Careme and Mr le Marquis de Cussy, even arousing the contempt of Mr Baudelaire. His physiologie became a classic in anecdotes and observations in food preparation. His name has been use for numerous preparations

    A garnish that consist of a Salpicon of Truffles and Foie Gras, placed in a shell of Duchess Potato.

    19th Century (1800 / 1899)

    All a long the 19th century the truffle was the food item of vanity from gastronomy-politic

    Despite the politicians falling to the charms and the spells from the truffle, the Clerics who once banished it in the middle ages, started to fall on its spells and committed the sin of Gourmandise

    Alexandre Dumas gave us an epitaph:” Gastronomes of all eras never pronounced the name of “La truffe” without placing a hand to their hat!”

    « Les gourmands de toutes les époques n’ont jamais prononcé le nom de la truffe sans porter la main à leur chapeau ».

    Dumas Alexandre French Author

    Born : Villers-Cotterets, 1802

    Died : Dieppe, 1870

    Books: “le Grand Dictionaire de Cuisine”, completed in March 1870, published in 1872, “The Three Mousketeers” and other Romanesque’s Book

    Credits : “Lobster a la Porthos”, “Filet de Bœuf Monte Cristo”, “Salad a la Dumas”

    Mr Dumas was a great habitué of the Parisian life, enjoying good living and good food. He had his private room at the “Maison Doree”.

    He attended places such as “Bixio Dinners”, “the Roche du Cantale” & “the Jocket Club”. Where one of his protégé Mr Jules Goufe presided.

    In the “Restaurant de France” his friend Mr Vuillemot served a famous Dinner,

    with dishes Named on his honour “Lobster a la Porthos”, “Fillet de Boeuf Monte Cristo”, “Salad a la Dumas”, “Gorenflot” Etc

    Mr Dumas reputation was great has a Gastronome and Writer,

    he had his own Philosophy in dressing salads which he enjoyed doing during dinners party, leaving the servant to toss & serve the salad that he dressed himself,

    which brought him lots of respect and laughter from his fellow Dinners.

    Mr Dumas was asked by a young publisher to write a cooking book “the Grand Dicitonaire de Cuisine”, which he accepted to do. He went away with his Cook Mlle Marie in the Finisterre region, to find peace to achieve the writing.

    He died few weeks after the completion of the book.

    The work was monumental (over 1150 pages) full of recipes with anecdotes, written with the usual humour of Mr Dumas.

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  1. shin koh
    thanks for this sources..it really helps for my report tomorrow..