Truffle Treasure Hunt
When the truffle is ripe and ready to reproduce, it emits an intoxicating aroma. The aroma
is intense because it has to be able to waft above the surface of the earth to attract the
animals that will help the truffle to reproduce. The Italian word to describe this heavenly
truffle fragrance is “profumatissimo” – the ultimate in perfume. The chemicals in the truffle
perfume don’t just attract animals; they are also soothing to humans.
According to truffle lore, the hunt for white truffles begins in September, “the third moon
after the rains begin.” Then, a licensed Truffle Hunter, called a Trifalau, heads out to his
secret spots in the woods on a treasure hunt. Accompanying him are his specially trained
truffle dogs. These are expensive dogs, valued for their skill in sniffing out truffles. In past
times, pigs were used, but now dogs are preferred. Dogs are content to simply find the
truffles and let humans dig them up. Pigs will find the truffles, dig them up, and eat them.
Using dogs ensures that the Trifalau doesn’t have to add “pig wrestling” to his job
description. Often, the Trifulau will go truffle hunting by moonlight. This allows him to keep
his truffling places secret.
Mother Nature heard human prayers for truffles and took pity: she staggered the truffle
seasons. White Winter Truffle season is September to December. Black Winter Truffle
season is December to March. After a two-month gap, Black Summer Truffle season kicks
in, from May to December. In between, when fresh truffles are not available, motivated
humans figured out ways to preserve them.