History and myth

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The truffle has been known since ancient times, but we cannot be sure that historians in the past really talked about truffle or other hypogean mushrooms.

In the ancient world

Therefore, it is only an assumption that truffles were present in the diet of Sumerians and Jews around 1700-1600 BC. The first certain information about truffles appeared in the Naturalis Historia by the Latin scholar Pliny the Elder (79 A.D.). The anecdotes reported therein show that the truffle, simply defined Tuber in Latin, was very popular in the table of the Romans, who certainly acquired the culinary use of this fungus from the Etruscans.

In the first century A.D., thanks to the Greek philosopher Plutarch from Chaeronea, the idea that the precious mushroom derived from the combined action of water, heat and lightning was handed down. Many poets were inspired by this mushroom: Juvenal explained its origin as the result of a lightning bolt thrown by Jupiter near an oak tree (a tree considered sacred to the Father of the Gods). Since Jupiter was also famous for his prodigious sexual activity, the truffle has always been attributed with aphrodisiac qualities.

In the eighteenth century, the Piedmontese truffle was considered one of the most delicious products in all European courts. Among the great admirers of this “fruit of the earth” is the musician Gioacchino Rossini, who called it “the Mozart of mushrooms”.

The Piedmontese white truffle has always been considered the most valuable, but it was only in the 20th century that the Alba truffle acquired world fame thanks to the brilliant promotional work carried out by Giacomo Morra, hotelier and restaurateur from Alba, who was rightly “crowned” King of Truffles in 1933 by the London Times.

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