Mid-winter magic

The French, (of course), claim the first truffle.  Legend has it that an old sow, well past its use-by date, was allowed one more walk in the forest before dispatch, and found a black fruit in the ground. The swineherd tried to wrest it from the pig but she ate it.  Suitors for the sow subsequently appeared from everywhere and fell into an amatory frenzy. This led to many piglets, which  greatly improved the fortune of the house. Then the swineherd, whose union had not been blessed with children, sought out his own truffles and took some home to his wife.  Every year thereafter his wife produced a baby boy, thirteen in all and more than enough to attract the landlord’s attention.  The landlord told the King and the rest is history!

As a result of their reputation as an aphrodisiac, truffles were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans and condemned by the mediaeval church.  However, their true magic lies in their powerful aroma. Described by one writer as “old socks and sex” with notes of spice cupboard, garlic and damp earth, it enhances and intensifies the flavour of food, turning a simple egg into a gourmet dish.

Truffles are now being grown in several regions of Australia. Our festival highlights the black (or Perigord) truffles harvested in the Capital Region surrounding Canberra. We guarantee you a treat for the senses. As for the truffle’s other magical properties – well, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Wayne Haslam has assembled some great Truffle history and myths in a PDF document here.

The season’s best

There’s nothing more fitting for the longest night of the year than to sit down to any dinner that had lots of fresh local truffles in it. From simple pasta or pizza dishes with a generous grating of truffle through to full degustation dinners, the 2013 Festival  will again offer a choice of truffle experiences varying from the affordable to the indulgent.

Buying truffles

You won’t find them at the local supermarket and, once you’ve tasted fresh truffles, substitutes like the synthetic truffle oils just won’t cut it. See our list of  suppliers or visit the Farmers’ Market every Saturday morning . Bear in mind that the truffle season is short (supplies cease in early August) and fresh truffles are expensive (a 50 gram truffle is about the size of a golf ball and will cost around $125.00. But worth every cent.