“Tuber magnatum Pico” is the sumptuous academic name of the White Truffle, an hypogeal mushroom that the Latin historian Pliny in the first century AD called a “miracle of nature”.
“Alba White Truffle” is, however, the name with which this “jewel of the earth” has traveled around the world, proposing itself as ambassador of the Langhe and Roero Area.
The truffle remains, still today, linked to legends, fantasies and suggestions. In fact, it is rebellious in the face of scientific investigation projects, cultivation attempts and market surveys.
A wonderful world full of knowledge, recognized as a World Heritage Site. A culturally disorienting world since, in a reality viscerally permeated by the values of private property, it has always been linked to the free search. A world capable, here, between Langhe and Roero, of inspiring the most important tourist season; to imprint the civilization of the table; to seduce the most esteemed wines; to animate a millionaire international charity auction; to even invent a university for truffle dogs and a truffle song festival. To excel also in the title of our Order. In short, to make economy and customs.
The truffle, today, speaks all the languages of the world. The vocabulary is that of preciousness and excellence. And of absolute seriousness: as it is imposed on exclusive products. Therefore, if the legends mantain all their charm, fake news are banned. It is false that in the past truffles grew so abundant as to be common on peasant tables: archival documents from the 16th century declare them as a gift to the powerful, mostly in support of supplications. It is false that all the truffles traded around the world as “Alba White Truffle” come from Alba: but the fact that everyone aspires to that name is the most authoritative acknowledgment of the primacy of the Alba White Truffles. False that the truffle can not be cultivated: since the attention, the guardianship, the protection of the truffle grounds are deeply imbued with the semantic root of the latin term “colere”, therefore real forms of cultivation.
These are the premises necessary to tell an ancient and very modern “fruit”: in dialogue with history, but careful to confront the great contemporary themes, on all that of climate change. In fact, in the presence of an increasingly drier and hotter climate, the truffle season delays and lengthens, questioning the calendar of hunting and the International Alba Truffle Fair. It follows that December and January meet the ideal conditions to establish themselves for the excellent quality, clamoring for authoritative initiatives capable of singing that truffle as “the last of the year, the first of the year”.
Then there is a terrain as fascinating as it is insidious on which the truffle is called to pronounce itself: that of the “taboos”. One above all: the scientific impossibility of indicating its area of origin. It would be nice to go beyond that wall to pay homage to qualitative differences. In fact, as a child of the earth and of the tree, the truffle is the translator of subterranean and secret moods. Which give unique characters and scents. Why not tell them as “cru”? Amidst many diffidence, the trifolao of Roero have begun to do so, thanks also to the highly recognizable and highly appreciated characteristics of the Rocche truffles, the largest natural truffle ground. But it would be desirable to be able to compare them with those of the Fenoglian rittani of the Langa or with those of the high Langhe.
On closer inspection, this is what we already do at a family level. And this is what the most correct chefs are doing: buy from trusted trifolao and explaining-guaranteeing the origin and quality of those truffles to customers. Sometimes also in relation to the tree: oak, linden, poplar … The guarantee? The same that applies to today’s anonymous vagueness: trusting one’s word or the seriousness of the person. It would then be enough to go one step further: to propose the “truffle list” with different origins and, obviously, different prices. No problem if, in periods of poor local harvesting, they arrive from the Balkans, just declare it: they are also those “Tuber magnatum Pico”. But don’t worry: they will all enhance the quality and excellence of the “Alba truffle”: the absolute best. So worthy of diamond prices As always it is also recognized by the envious French cousins.
by Luciano Bertello