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  • Writer's pictureTheresa Brandt

Let's Talk Truffles

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Woman digging up truffles with dog.
Truffle hunting in Avignon on a perfect spring day!

What’s one of the most authentic experiences one can have when visiting Avignon, France? Truffle hunting! If offered the opportunity during your visit to the region, you really must say, “oui, oui!” You can meet truffle farmers and learn about the business, and best of all, meet their truffle-hunting dogs. You’ll bring home a whole new perspective on your favorite truffle fries.

Ready to sniff out truffles? Here are a few fun facts about this palate-pleasing treasure.

  1. They Are Meant to Be Rare. In fact, if truffles weren’t rare, they wouldn’t exist at all. They grow on the roots of trees, competing for nutrients in the soil - but, if they compete too aggressively, their host tree would die. So there can never be that many truffles on any given tree root.

  2. They’re Particular. Speaking of where truffles grow, they’re very picky. They grow when the pH, moisture and minerals of the soil are just so, and then almost always on oak, hazel, poplar or beech trees.

  3. You Should Be Particular, Too. There are thousands of species of truffle. The ones you want are the rare (and expensive) white truffles of Italy and France, or black truffles, burgundy truffles or Oregon white truffles. Steer away from anything else.

  4. Follow the Scent to Find Them. Animals smell truffles, dig them up and, as a result, the truffle spores are spread. It’s a natural cycle. Their pungent odor comes from growing underground, but it’s that same strong scent that leads to such a potent flavor.

  5. They’re for the Dogs … or Pigs. Dogs smell 100,000 times better than we do. So foragers train dogs to track truffles on their farms (it takes one to two years to properly train a dog in this manner). Some traditional truffle foragers also use pigs, which are known to have an astounding sense of smell, as well.

  6. But You Don’t Need a Dog or a Pig to Find Them. While you may meet the resident dog forager during your farm visit in Avignon, Italy or the Pacific Northwest of the United States, you can also just head out on your own. Check for holes left by rodents as they dig up the truffles, or rake them up as they do in Oregon, with a small, four-pronged rake.

  7. Then Again … Dogs and Pigs Are Better at Finding Ripe Truffles. There is no way to tell if a truffle is ripe without eating it. Most dog foragers are trained to only go after ripe fungi, making their noses even more valuable. Some farmers say that to not use the dogs is irresponsible and results in more unripe truffles on the market.

  8. They’re Worth (More Than) Their Weight in Gold. The most prized truffle varieties cost $4,000 or more per kilo. There was a time that a white Italian truffle was worth more per kilo than gold ($14,203.50 to $37,488 to be exact). In 2014, an Italian-found truffle sold for $61,000 to a Taiwanese buyer.

Freshly harvested truffles

As if Provence wasn’t enchanting enough … with its fields of lavender, sunflowers and incredible food and wine, now you can add a truffle-hunting experience in Avignon to the list during your river cruise.

The perfect way to end truffle hunting - a snack of truffles on toast!

Let’s chat about how to make sure your itinerary includes truffle hunting. Reach out by booking a consultation through my Services page. Delicieux! ​​


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