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Sisyphus The Truffle Hog

Truffle Hogs and Truffle Dogs! And no, we are not just trying to rhyme randomly with different types of animals. It's October, which in certain French regions and to certain groups of people means it's almost truffle Mushroom season! White, black, burgundy...some love them, some hate them (not common) and others forage for them in seemingly odd ways.

But do you know exactly how and where these little earthy gems are harvested? Truffle mushrooms can be found mostly in the Provence (Southeast France) Perigord (Southwest France) and Burgundy regions.  More specifically they are found hidden in the dirt next to root systems, most commonly nestled closely to oak trees but sometimes spread amongst lavender and thyme growths.

Much like any desirable commodity that is difficult to extract, these fungi pack a punch to the wallet almost as fast as they pack a punch to your kisser. The time and effort put into harvesting a small amount of these as well as the declining availability in the wild directly reflects their price on market. It is not uncommon to see some of the most sought after truffles to go for $3,000.00-$6,000.00 per pound!

Specially trained truffle pigs (Truffle Hogs) and more recently, specially trained dogs (Truffle Dogs, specifically the Lagotto Romagnolo breed) are the preferred method of extraction. The female pigs have an extremely keen nose and are in fact wildly drawn to truffles by nature. In the early days of truffle hunting, harvesters used to slowly trail their pig hunters and ultimately it came down to a race to the dirt between human and pig to claim the coveted prize first. Over the years, pigs have been specially trained to locate and "let be" likely because they were winning the ground battles vs. humanity. It’s hard to imagine a more unfulfilling job for a pig unless a higher power invents the human ice cream chaser, but nevertheless keep those truffles coming.


by: Matthew Volpe

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