Written by Janet Leigh
The magical perfume that is the truffle excites chef’s to change their menus, the savvy shopper to hound their providor for it’s arrival and even the newcomer fingers the little bottles keen to discover what all the whispering is about.
The excitement and allure of Truffle season stirs everyone this time of year. While most are turning up the heaters and planning new dinner menus to impress their guests, the Truffiere and in particular the hunters prepare for mud, rain cold and keeping our dogs focused through the winter ahead.
The hunters out there and we don’t know if we are many or few, for we rarely cross paths have a unique view on the season. We have had single figure days, sleet and horizontal rain, enough rain to turn some tree rows into mud slides. We try to keep warm, with layers and most glamorous of all the plastic pants, for we will spend most of the time on our knees up to our elbows in mud. Low lying branches whip us as we pay attention to the dog and not the tree, tree roots mock us with their inventive twist and turns, trapping a beautiful truffle within their embrace. and while we use every fanciful tool, stick or sprinkler stake to free our prize, our hands cop the biggest beating. They are besides our nose ( which is always smeared in dirt) are our most prized and effective tool for finding and freeing the illusive truffle.
As I say we don’t know who we all are. We don’t have a club or belong to a union (not that I know off) we know of each other by our dogs behaviour. It’s they that tell us, someone else was here last week, they stopped at that tree, found something here left something not yet ripe there. Our focus is on the dog.
Ah..the dogs, how are they working this week, as we pull our brim down to keep a little rain off we watch the drenched things, nose down tail waging truck along seemingly oblivious to it all. They have a particular gait when their right on their game and we watch for it, eagerly, we will need to be ready with their treats and our markers, can’t take our eyes of them now as they sniff around paw once, move a few steps paw again, circle the tree and paw again. Is this 1, 2 or 3 truffles around this tree? Or if it’s blowing a gale they lift their noses up of the ground as they catch a drift from 20 mtrs away, then as they head in that direction, it’s gone and it’s back to nose to the ground…… where did that go ( they seem to say) it was hear a minute ago..then another gust and were off again.
Up and down we go, steep slopes, mudy paths, gravel on knees, smeared noses and no finger nails. We don’t catch many colds though and we are more than rewarded by some of the amazing people we meet.
Whether we are hunting for tons of truffles or just the precious 1st, the thanks are warm and heartily felt.
As one of those hunting on young trufferies ( I mean young trees), truffle rewards are few but more than made up for by the relationships we are building one cup of tea, morning pastry, bowl of soup or ploughmans lunch at a time. We come to your farm full of excitement that this will be the day and though often disappointed we leave a little of that excitement behind taking the rest for next time. When we are there for that 1st truffle, all the cold and work is replaced by relief and genuine excitement that you have joined the club…the club of truffle producers. You know who you are… thank you.