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Mystical, Magical Truffles. Alba’s White Truffle Festival
In 3000 BC Babylonians searched for truffles on their beaches and in their sandy desert.
Love Goddess Aphrodite spoke of their aphrodisiac power.
Mythical legend says truffles appeared where Zeus’s thunderbolts hit the ground.
Cicero deemed them children of the earth.
Early October through the end of November, the white truffle is the main attraction in the town of Alba, a piedmont city in the Langhe region of Italy, close to where a large portion of the world’s truffle crop is grown. The Alba White Truffle Festival brings together buyers and sellers for an extraordinary food event that takes over the town — from the truffle market to restaurants, to specialty stores and pizza shops.
From classical times until today, truffles have been hunted, savoured and treasured by noblemen and Popes, kings and connoisseurs. The white truffle is the most highly prized and known truffle because of its taste and commercial importance. It lives in symbiosis with the roots of trees and is rarely found in combination with other truffles. A white truffle crop appears below ground and is usually harvested from September to December with the help of trained dogs or pigs that can smell the truffles through a layer of earth. Retail prices in the U.S. for the Italian white truffle have reached $1000 and $3000 per pound. Most truffles are harvested in the wild and since the wild supply is diminishing, prices continue to climb.
White Truffle Festival
For this year’s White Truffle Festival, visitors from all over the world clambered through the streets to reach the exhibition site.. They filled every shop and cafe through the downtown area of Alba from morning to night to dig into all sorts of truffle delights.
Parma UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy
A highlight of the Truffle show for the Barefoot Blogger was the Parma UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy cooking exhibition. There I was invited to sit “ringside” by the organisers, Parma Alimentare, to watch some of Italy’s top chef’s create haute cuisine dishes from simple Italian ingredients — the ones that make “Parma” synonymous with famous cheese and pork products.
Truffles were not on the featured menu, yet Chefs Antonio Di Vita of Parma Rotta and Filippo Cavalli of Osteria dei Mascalzoni presented the best Culatello you can buy and dishes made with the finest Parmigiano Reggiano. Delizioso!
Primo: tortelli di erbetta
Secondo: punta di vitello ripiena
Dessert: dolci al cucchiaio and meringa
Eating White Truffles!
So did I taste white truffles? You bet I did! From pasta to the most amazing pizza.
Yes, that’s with egg and cheese. Eat your heart out!
Markets and festival activities went well into the night.
Until next time …