As Luigi explained to me, with great enthusiasm, mushrooms are amazing! There are three types of mushroom: the pathonogenic, the saprophyte, and the symbiotic. The pathonogenic, kill the host and generally are not edible. The saprophyte mushrooms feed on decay; they digest the medium on which they grow. These mushrooms can be farmed in man made medium, they are oyster, crimini or shittake mushrooms. The symbiotic mushrooms benefit both the host and the fungus, and the ecology of the relationship has proven too complicated to replicate, think TRUFFLES!
I asked Luigi about the size of a truffle and how it relates to its ripeness. He said, “a truffles size is dictated by the nutrients and density of the soil not the ripeness.” A truffle realizes its innate girth through a combination of the available nutrients and the density of the soil, within two days. The varieties of soil range from loamy nutrient rich soils, to dense stone filled soil. In every case there are tree roots and mycelia in a symbiotic and somewhat magical relationship. It is time that determines maturity and it takes, approximately, two weeks for a truffle once formed to fully mature.
The shape of a truffle has little to do with the aroma, though it can be an indicator of the intensity of the truffle. In fact, as with many things, the perfect shape does not mean the best flavor. A perfectly egg shaped truffle often has less aroma than one with funky shapes. An egg shaped truffle usually forms high up in the soil, sometimes cresting above the soil. As we looked at truffles picked in the previous week, Luigi pointed out the outlines of roots and rock faces that the truffles had grown up against. He traced the lines with reverence and described the forces at work and the resilience of the truffles.
We have learned that collection is 40% down from last year. Experience says, order the week before New Years for the best price, but we will be able to get them the week of if needed. Orders placed Monday morning are available for Thursday delivery.