winter truffles

history of truffles

History

The truffles' culinary mystique can be traced as far back to the ancient Egyptians 3,000 years ago. The ancient Egyptians believed in the truffles' aphrodisiac qualities and considered them to be divine gifts from the gods. During the Roman and Greek period, the truffles were used not so much for amorous but for therapeutic purposes. According to ancient people, the truffles help in man's spiritual and physical rejuvenation. The truffles, however, were virtually ignored during the Medieval period because the early church attributed their strong acrid aroma with witchcraft.

The truffles finally regained popularity in France in the 1700s when the reigning French king took a liking to these mushrooms and put it back in the culinary spotlight. Since then, the truffles have remained favorite culinary luxuries for the upper class and nobles in Europe until now. The truffles achieved an all-time high in production during the 1800s when a record of almost 2,000 tons of mushrooms were harvested. Unfortunately, truffle production came at almost a halt during World War I and II when most truffle woodlands were destroyed and a large number of farmers and hunters became casualties of war.

The production of truffles reached an all-time low in the 19th century, when truffle output dwindled into less than 500 tons. Despite this, truffles remained as popular delicacies all throughout Europe, America, and even Asia. The continuous demand for these mushrooms have recently prompted numerous agriculturists to study and come up with ways to successfully cultivate truffles. So far, initial ventures on experimental truffle production in Australia and New Zealand have yielded promising results, although France and Italy still remain the biggest exporters of truffles in the world. 

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