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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tartufi (Truffles) Food of the Gods

Copyright 2009, Maria Liberati
Editor: Katrina Rios

If you are in the city of Umbria in Italy (where The Basic Art of Italian Cooking School Programs are held try some of their delicious black truffles. Umbria is famous for black truffles, which are a specialty of Italian cuisine. They are the most expensive mushrooms in the world and they can be made many different ways. Some of the best truffles come from Norcia, which is a medieval mountain town. They grow in the surrounding countryside, beneath oak and walnut trees. A good time to visit the town is during February when they hold The Black Truffle (Tartufo) Festival. During the festival you have the opportunity to sample both black and white truffles and learn different ways that they can be made. This festival also attracts local and national food producers that look at the truffles as prized possessions. They know that they can use these truffles in sauces, pasta dishes, or in risotto.
The fascination with truffles goes back to ancient history. The ancients believed that the truffles were the food of the gods. They believed that the truffles had aphrodisiac properties that the mythological god Jupiter used very often. In ancient Roman recipes writers would advise mere mortals to cook the truffles under ash and eat them with honey. When the middle ages came along, the truffles came to become mistrusted because people thought that they were poisonous. The truffle only became highly popular in the last two centuries because of its constant use in the high courts of nobility.
Today the truffles are used in so many different recipes and places they are considered the king of cuisine. Because of their popularity they can be used in a variety of dishes to make the dish even more enjoyable. They are a great way to experiment and to surprise friends and family with your newly found cooking skills.

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