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The truffle of Norcia

Kinds, features, searching, cleaning and cooking!

The area of Norcia, in Umbria, is famous for the so called truffle of Norcia. There are two main types: the prized black winter truffle of Norcia and the summer truffle.

Let’s follow a couple of truffle-hunting dogs to understand how does it work this precious searching. And at a gastronomic level how do you clean it and then eat it? Let’s see…

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Cover pic courtesy of Flickr User Tuscany Events

Video full text: The Truffle of Norcia

First allow me to introduce the ladies, Luna and Nina.
Then the gentleman, who is Stefano Alemanno.
Truffle hunter? How lovely!
It’s a hobby. I learned how to do it when I was a child.
Sorry, but they’re making a real fuss over me: perhaps I smell of truffle?
Don’t think so.
Truffles are an essential feature of Umbria.
In particular in the area of Norcia.
How many different sorts of truffle are there?
We have two main types:
the prized black winter truffle of Norcia,
and then there’s the summer truffle.
Here Nina, she’s eating a truffle!
How did she get hold of that?
Too late, she’s eaten it now! She shouldn’t have. But we weren’t paying attention.
And the dogs finished off the job.
So the fault is mine! (or perhaps even the credit, from Nina’s point of view).
We follow them and watch out for when they smell something in the ground.
They tell us that there is a truffle by digging.
Luna! Nina!
Good girl! Here it is!
Is a dog a natural born truffle hunter, or is it trained to become one?
There is no one specific breed for gathering truffles.
In the main they are cross-breeds.
And small at that. They’re more practical, even for transporting.
Stefano, how much would you say a trained truffle-hunting dog is worth?
Prices can range from €1000 to €4000.
A real fortune then.
Find! Go on! Good girl!
It’s important to remember, when you find a truffle, to fill in the hole where it was found
with the earth that was dug up.
Leaving the holes open is forbidden.
You also need to pass an exam in order to know these things!
Whose was this? Is it old? Is it yours?
It was my grandfather’s. He passed it down to my father and it then came to me.
In the families of Norcia the truffle is a sign of primogeniture.
Of a tradition. If they were kings this would be their sceptre!
So this is what you have bagged today.
At a gastronomic level how do I clean it and then eat it?
You clean it with a small brush.
It can be washed and then brushed to remove all the bits of earth.
The skin is OK as well?
Absolutely, it must not be peeled.
What about the history of the truffle? When did man first begin to appreciate its worth?
The truffle has been unearthed ever since man first appeared in the area.
It was known in Roman time too, and has very ancient origins.
A tradition that here, fortunately, still remains firm.

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