Like real diamonds, truffles are found underground. Truffles are subterranean tree-
huggers. They are in beneficial committed relationships – symbiosis – with the roots of
trees, especially hazelnut, oak, and lime. The tree nourishes the truffle with vitamins and
sugars that the truffle, away from sunlight, cannot produce itself, but which it needs. The
truffle provides the tree with minerals from the earth. The type of tree to which the truffle
bonds accounts for subtle variations in truffle flavor.
Truffles are all about terroir. They need unique terrain to thrive. The earth must be soft
and damp. It must be rich in minerals. Above all, the soil must be clean. Attempts to
replicate Italian truffles in other parts of the world have not been wildly successful. It’s not
as simple as planting hazelnut trees someplace, inoculating their roots with spores, and
getting some dogs. The Italian micro-climate is much more complex.