The golden rule of black truffles

Is there any kind of product that is more puzzling than the black truffle – tuber melanosporum, or “black diamond”? Why is that? Misperception or ignorance by diners? Deliberate lack of transparency by some key players? The hype around mega bidding wars for the most expensive truffle?

Chef Bruno, from Chez Bruno in Lorgues, southeast France, sees it this way — I love this: “In too many so-called gastronomic restaurants, the truffle appears on the menu, then all but disappears from your plate, to tragically reappear with the check!”

This month is peak season for the “black diamond,” so let’s take a closer look at the mystery.

First of all, there is not one truffle! Truffles change from region, season and preparation (side note: you never cook a truffle, you prepare it).

It’s easy to be lured by the amazing smell of truffle when a dish is carried across the dining room, but how many times have you been disappointed by the taste itself? Playing with aroma, special oils or culinary tricks do not give the right image to truffles. The golden rule is to have transparent communication with guests and to share the whole story from soil to plate.

A few concrete ideas to do so:

  • Show the product to your guest, raw, before preparing it
  • Allow the guest to smell it
  • Describe the origin, the region, the field where it comes from
  • Explain the process, from the pig or dog who found it to the distributor who washed it
  • Create a ritual around its service
  • Be as generous as possible to create a memorable moment

Enjoy your truffle season – just remember that sometimes it’s better to appreciate it as a special occasion rather than fooling yourself often with lesser quality “bargains.” After all, you wouldn’t drink an exceptional vintage wine every day, either.