Truffle in history

The first one to use truffle seems to be Jakob in 1600 bc, although an actual availability among the tables is to be attributed to the Greeks, whom they already considered truffle a gluttony, quoting it even in textbooks.

From the ancient times, truffle has always enjoyed of a highly respected position, for it was believed to be a mushroom with divine qualities, exactly because it could nourish itself from the underground without needing any roots, as written by the famous roman writer Pliny the Elder; furthermore, it was believed to be highly aphrodisiac.

The first recipes belong to the age of the gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, who lived from the I century bc and the I century ac; In his De Culinaria he praised its divine properties. Until the modern age, when truffles started to spread throughout the tables of the most influent people, from Louis XVIII to Napoleon I and Pope Gregory IV.
It started to be classified depending on the many varieties and studying its differences, the chemical composition and its nutrition facts. Piedmont truffle was already considered as one of the most precious and aromatic one.

Mirko Tartuti | il tartufo

Although there were also many doubts about the growth of this tuber, given that in 1800 it was believed to be:

  • A phenomenon grown underground that nourished itself through the exudation of plants, leaves and branches;
  • A phenomenon born from the fermentation of the soil caused by particular geothermal conditions;
  • A consequence of production of blisters, caused by particular insects’ bites;
  • A phenomenon grown in the form of a plant parasite.

Another remarkable date is the publication of the book Monographia tuberacearum of Carlo Vittadini, being the first scientific text fully based on the study of truffle and on its classification. That book became so important that the name of the author began to be used for the scientific identification of most kinds of truffle: the Tuber melanosporum Vittadini, Tuber Aestivum Vittadini etc.

Another important scientific text about truffle is the work Funghi Hypogaei by Louis René Tulasne of 1862. Tulasne finally discovered where truffle grows, that is the mycelium, a vegetative apparatus formed by filaments typical of most species of fungi.

In 1892, the academic Gaspard Adolphe Chatin, due to the numerous studies on truffle, managed to give it an appropriate denomination; truffle belongs to the family of Tuberacee, genus Tuber. Until the 1900 when not only the studies on truffle got to triplicate, but also its fame and availability in restaurants and the tables of the wealthy families.

Mirko Tartuti | il tartufo