Re: Practical truffle advice

Discussion in 'Food and nutrition' started by Max Hauser, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. Max Hauser

    Max Hauser Guest

    My previous posting "Practical Truffle Advice" explains that it is for
    people wishing an introduction to the main truffle species of food
    literature. Those are incontrovertibly Tuber melanosporum and T. magnatum,
    "black" and "white" respectively. (Any reader can confirm the primacy of
    these truffles in the famous food books I cited, which go into more detail.)

    The inexpensive or "minor" truffle species, certainly of interest to cooks
    also, and to truffle hobbyists, are outside the purpose of that posting.
    They would properly require a separate thread. Except to make clear that
    they do not appear in the classic food literature I cited. They are not the
    black and white truffles described by all of those writers. (I've mentioned
    truffles on newsgroups for more than 20 years, after creation of
    rec.food.cooking by a friend of mine.)

    D. Wheeler has advertised "Oregon White Truffles" and is identified
    elsewhere as a vendor of them. He writes on truffles in cooking from an
    evident commercial conflict of interest. Wheeler's newsgroup postings are
    among the recent writing -- usually from people with a commercial stake --
    that cloud the distinction between minor and classic truffle species.
    Wheeler even denigrates the latter, in ways that place him into conflict
    with Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, Jacques Pépin, Paula Wolfert, Alice
    Waters, et alia. The reader can decide whom to take seriously. (More of
    Wheeler's perspective and reasoning are evident in his semi-incoherent
    responses to my postings on the recent thread "Questions about truffles" in
    rec.food.cooking.)


    From Waverly Root's long 1980 truffle article (he'd mentioned them much
    earlier, in his books on French and Italian food). Root was the mentor of
    A. J. Liebling and is recognized as one of the principal US food writers of
    the 20th century.

    "... The only edible variety in the British Isles is T. aestivus, the summer
    truffle, dark brown or black, with an aromatic odor but not much taste. ...
    [In the United States there are some 30 native] varieties of truffles, none
    of which make particularly good eating. Every once in a while somebody
    discovers truffles there and glimpses fortune ahead, only to suffer
    disappointment. This happens oftenest in Oregon and California ..."
     
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  2. On Jul 9, 3:30 pm, "Max Hauser" <maxREM...@THIStdl.com> wrote:
    > My previous posting "Practical Truffle Advice" explains that it is for
    > people wishing an introduction to the main truffle species of food
    > literature. Those are incontrovertibly Tuber melanosporum and T. magnatum,
    > "black" and "white" respectively. (Any reader can confirm the primacy of
    > these truffles in the famous food books I cited, which go into more detail.)
    >

    I agree the the books your suggested in your Practical Truffle Advice
    has some merit. But they seem to me selective: no mention of James
    Beard, Caprial Pence, Greg Higgins, and others merit who have written
    on the subject. Perhaps the complete list would have been too long? I
    do note there is no mention of the North American Truffling Society's
    "The Cookbook of North American Truffles", which has to be the classic
    text for American species to date. Why no mention of these species in
    other books? Vast ignorance IMO.
    > The inexpensive or "minor" truffle species, certainly of interest to cooks
    > also, and to truffle hobbyists, are outside the purpose of that posting.
    > They would properly require a separate thread. Except to make clear that
    > they do not appear in the classic food literature I cited. They are not the
    > black and white truffles described by all of those writers. (I've mentioned
    > truffles on newsgroups for more than 20 years, after creation of
    > rec.food.cooking by a friend of mine.)
    >
    > D.Wheelerhas advertised "Oregon White Truffles" and is identified
    > elsewhere as a vendor of them. He writes on truffles in cooking from an
    > evident commercial conflict of interest. Wheeler'snewsgroup postings are
    > among the recent writing -- usually from people with a commercial stake --
    > that cloud the distinction between minor and classic truffle species.Wheelereven denigrates the latter, in ways that place him into conflict
    > with Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, Jacques Pépin, Paula Wolfert, Alice
    > Waters, et alia. The reader can decide whom to take seriously. (More ofWheeler'sperspective and reasoning are evident in his semi-incoherent
    > responses to my postings on the recent thread "Questions about truffles" in
    > rec.food.cooking.)

    As for Julia Child, she stated in a truffle article for the Contra
    Costa Times just before she died, that she had not tried American
    truffles, but that she had no reason to suspect they were inferior to
    European varieties, and that they might indeed be better. "Why not?"
    she is quoted as saying. Tthe identification of Tuber gibbosum by
    Harkness in 1883 (the description was printed in 1898) said it was a
    shame these fungi were not found more commonly, otherwise they might
    be considered as good as the truffles of commerce (i.e. European
    species). But to ignore the Terfezia, Choiromyces, and my special
    favorite Picoa "for people who don't want to spend much for truffles
    is, I think, a disservice.

    Not heard of Picoa? I wonder why. It was named for Pico, whose name is
    usually appended to the end of Tuber magnatum, which he first
    described in science. Picoa are known from France, Spain, Japan and
    the US.

    As for my previous business, your statements border slander. I have
    dropped my business after learning I have methicillin-resistant
    Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Does that make my statements "semi-
    coherent"? I was unaware of it. The disease affects my body, not my
    mind.
    >
    > From Waverly Root's long 1980 truffle article (he'd mentioned them much
    > earlier, in his books on French and Italian food). Root was the mentor of
    > A. J. Liebling and is recognized as one of the principal US food writers of
    > the 20th century.

    Interesting but passe. Did you know the North American Truffling
    Society began in 1980? Is science too dry for foodies?
    >
    > "... The only edible variety in the British Isles is T. aestivus, the summer
    > truffle, dark brown or black, with an aromatic odor but not much taste. ....
    > [In the United States there are some 30 native] varieties of truffles, none
    > of which make particularly good eating. Every once in a while somebody
    > discovers truffles there and glimpses fortune ahead, only to suffer
    > disappointment. This happens oftenest in Oregon and California ..."


    Root obvious had not heard of T. rufum, which has also been reported
    (rarely) from England. Odd. In Scandinavia it is on the endangered
    species list, but is avidly sought after. Here in Oregon is has been
    reported in collections submitted to the North American Truffling
    Society on a fairly regular basis.

    As Dr. James Trappe, professor emeritus at Oregon State University has
    stated, the vast majority of truffles sold in the US until at least
    1990 and possibly later were sold immature. I can state from
    experience that in my opinion the Oregon White truffle (Tuber
    gibbosum) is at least as good as the Italian White truffle. If the
    fruiting times for both species overlapped sufficiently, people might
    be able to try side-by-side tastings of them, much like good wines.

    There are now known to be at least 50 species of native American
    truffles known to date, and the list may well reach 100, at least
    according to Dr. Trappe.

    Have you tried Tuber californicum (California Black truffle)?
    Have you tried T. rufum (Red truffle)?
    Have you tried T. murinum (Pallid truffle)?
    Have you tried T. sphaerosporum?
    Have you tried T. oregonense?
    Have you tried T. quercicola?
    Have you tried T. separans?

    >From other continents, have you tried Choiromyces meandriformis?

    Tuber indicum?
    Tuber himalayensis?
    Terfezia species(there are over 100 species of desert truffles from
    Africa and the Middle East. These were likely to truffles from Libya,
    exported to Rome in the time of Pliny and Socrates.)

    You mention in another thread that it would be inappropriate to judge
    European species unless one has had them in Europe at the height of
    their season. Yet you treat our native varieties with contempt without
    judging them in the same environment.

    Too bad.

    You have missed the butterscotch aroma of Endogone lactiflua when
    frozen. (Edibility unknown, not recommended). The strong Bailey's
    Irish Cream aroma of Alpova diplophloeus when mature and softened.
    (Edible) The overpowering stench of Gautieria monticola (think fresh
    roofing tar - capable of driving you out of your car when driving when
    a single specimen is in the car trunk).

    Or even the tremendous oil of garlic aroma (about 1000 times stronger
    than just garlic) of a species which remains unnamed at this time.

    Of course, you would have to invest some of your time away from
    cookbooks and more on finding dinner.<G> Perhaps even finding your own
    T. magnatum in Italy or Croatia. Yes, the largest reported (2.6 kg) T.
    magnatum came from outside of Italy.

    Iin matters of taste, everyone should be allowed their own opinion.
    Not everyone likes T. magnatum (I'm obviously one of them). Dr. Trappe
    loves it. You obviously don't care for T. gibbosum. I like T.
    gibbosum. But the T. gibbosum identified from 1980 is now known as T.
    oregonense. The real T. gibbosum is found from late winter to early
    spring in Washington, California and Oregon, and has been sampled by
    darn few people. Some claim it is "too strong". Similarly the coconut/
    chocolate/pineapple combination of Picoa carthusiana is especially
    enticing to me. How will others like it if they have never tried it?

    Daniel B. Wheeler
     

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