Tartufo Siciliano

Myth and History of the Truffle in Sicily

A gift from Zeus

vered by Joseph teaches in a vase of giadino Botanical Palermo in 1874, as quoted in Gattoparto dish: timbale and Truffle. Unique in its organoleptic properties supported by the scents of the Mediterranean.

ZeusThe first written records date back to 1600-1700 BC, at the time of the Sumerians and the patriarch Jacob. The ancient Sumerians used the truffle mixing it with other plants such as barley, chickpeas, lentils and mustard, while it is said that the ancient Athenians worshiped enough to confer citizenship to children of Cherippo, for inventing a new recipe.

Plutarch ventured the assertion that the very original "tuber" was born from the combined action of water, heat and lightning. Such theories, shared or disputed by Pliny, Martial, Juvenal and Galen, had the sole result is to generate long diatribes.

Most probably their "Tuber terrae" was not the fragrant truffle which we today we are concerned, but the "Terfezia Leanis" (Terfezia Sandstone) or similar species. They abounded, then more than now, in North Africa and West Asia, reaching a weight of three to four kilograms; it is understandable that they were very popular (to the point of being called "the food of the gods"), since at that time were completely unknown tubers of American origin, such as potato and Jerusalem artichoke.

Tuber magnatum Pico never came to be part of the refined Roman recipes, although Rome had to emperor also a citizen of Alba, Publio Elvio Pertinax. Truffles that delighted the palates of the Roman patricians were poor only in quality, because, as far as the price, this was salty. The writer Apicius in his "De Re Coquinaria" inserted six recipes truffle in the seventh book, what was the most expensive dishes.

Meanwhile, studies on truffle multiplied. Pliny the Elder called it "corn of the land", while Juvenal became infatuated 'to the point to say that "it was better that he lacked the grain rather than the truffles".

The truffle avoided throughout the Middle Ages canteens frugal man and remained the food of wolves, foxes, badgers, pigs, wild boars and rats. The Renaissance relaunched the taste of good food and truffles marched to win first place among the most refined dishes. The black truffle appeared on the tables of French gentlemen between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, while in Italy at that time was establishing the white truffle.


In '700, the Piedmontese truffle was considered at all the European courts a delicacy.

The truffle hunting was a fun palace, for which guests and foreign ambassadors visiting Turin were invited to attend.

Hence perhaps it comes the custom to use for an elegant animal like the dog, instead of pork, mainly used in France.


Between the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century., The Italian sovereigns Vittorio Amedeo II and Carlo Emanuele III took delight in organizing really lines of collection. An interesting episode concerns a shipment tartufiera occurred in 1751 and organized by Carlo Emanuele III in the Royal House of England. During the day, several truffles were found, but they were extremely lower value than those of Piedmont.

Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, during his political career, used the truffle as a means of diplomatic, composer Gioacchino Rossini called "The Mozart of mushrooms", while Lord Byron kept one on his desk because the scent to help him awaken his creativity and Alexandre Dumas called it the Sancta Santorum table.

He was published in 1780 in Milan, the first book about the White Truffle of Alba, baptized with the name of Tuber magnatum Pico (Magnatum - ie the "barons", for poor people, while Pico refers to the Piedmontese Vittorio Pico, the first scholar He took care of its classification).

A naturalist's botanical garden Pavia, Dr. Carlo Vittadini, published in Milan in 1831 the "Monographia Tuberacearum", the first work that laid the foundation dell'idnologia, the science that deals with the study of truffles, describing 51 different species .

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