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Black truffle season is officially underway

PUBLISHED: 15:06 28 November 2018

Truffles being prepared to be sold at market. Pic: Varaine/CC BY-SA 4.0

Truffles being prepared to be sold at market. Pic: Varaine/CC BY-SA 4.0

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Pigs, processions and high prices - why truffle season is a serious business in France

Black truffles collected in a basket. Pic: Kimon Berlin/CC BY-SA 3.0Black truffles collected in a basket. Pic: Kimon Berlin/CC BY-SA 3.0

French foodies particularly look forward to mid-November when the beginning of the black truffle season in Provence means they can enjoy the delectable delicacy once again, after an eight months hiatus.

Anyone who has ever read any of Peter Mayle’s work will be aware that the truffle season is strictly regulated and the search and selling of ‘black diamonds’ is a serious affair with weighing scales aplenty and money changing hands discreetly.

The season runs from 15 November – 15 March with ceremonies, processions and cooking demonstrations held to herald the much-anticipated period. About 70-80 per cent of France’s black truffles come from the Vaucluse area. Markets in the area around Avignon are a particularly good spot to find them, as well as the truffle fair in Ménerbes and weekly Friday markets in Richerenches and Carpentras.

Truffles are treated in such high regard in France that wholesale prices can reach up to €1,500 a kilo in some years when truffles are scarce. Delicious as an addition to pasta, omelettes, risotto, salade Niçoise or foie gras, there are hundreds of recipes online to ensure you make best use of your truffes.

Truffle shavings make a good addition to risotto. Pic: Mark Mitchell/CC BY 2.0Truffle shavings make a good addition to risotto. Pic: Mark Mitchell/CC BY 2.0

You are free to join the farmers and experts to go out in search of truffles yourself (although don’t go on private land), and it’s better to use a dog to sniff them out rather than a pig. The latter may not wait for you to pick it up and prefer to have a meal itself.

The other way to find them is to turn detective and try to find a particular type of fly which lays its eggs above the buried truffles – this one is a bit tricky to say the least – and even seasoned hunters often come back empty-handed, so don’t feel too bad if your trip turns up nothing more than muddy boots.

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