Tom Michaels - Kentucky truffle farmer
If Bill Gates decided he wanted to grow truffles, this industry would change overnight. Ten pounds an acre is laughable! Forty years from now we'll chuckle that annual world production was once as low as 30 tons. We'll have 10 times that many truffles! Or more. It's totally possible to make this a non-elite food. They'll be able get them down at Safeway."
Franklin Garland - North Carolina truffle farmer
When asked if the days of $800 truffle prices might be numbered, "To produce enough volume so that the price comes down," he said, "it will take 30 to 40 years. And even if the price drops to $350 a pound, it's still going to be profitable. Truffles are the highest paying legal crop in the world. This industry is in its infancy here. And so is the American appetite for truffles. Until a few years ago, most Americans thought truffles were chocolate. Now I can go into some podunk town in North Carolina and the kid changing tires at the gas station will know what truffles are. So I don't think we'll ever be lacking in demand. This is going to grow. By a lot.”
Charles Lefevre - Oregon - Owner of New World Truffiéres
"Truffles are subterranean in every sense of the word. They evoke a criminal mentality." In Europe, there are tales of truffle poachers with night vision goggles, of dogs being poisoned with strychnine meatballs. There are rumors of mafia connections, of truffle muggings.
Alexandre Dumas - author of "The Three Musketeers"
The most learned men have been questioned as to the nature of this tuber, and after two thousand years of argument and discussion their answer is the same as it was on the first day: we do not know. The truffles themselves have been interrogated, and have answered simply: eat us and praise the Lord."
Plutarch - author of Parallel Lives - 120 A.D.
"Since, during storms, flames leap from the humid vapors and dark clouds emit deafening noises, is it surprising the lightning, when it strikes the ground, gives rise to truffles, which do not resemble plants?"
Ancient civilizations ate and appreciated truffles, both for their taste and alleged magical properties. During the Egyptian and Roman dynasties desert truffles, which are much milder tasting than our current front runners, were the truffle of choice. People even speculate that the manna of the Jewish migration from Egypt to the Holy land was the desert truffle. The oldest surviving recipes for cooking truffles come from a Roman cook book, the Apicius de re coquinaria.
In the middle ages, the consumption of truffles fell into disrepute, except among the peasants, for whom they were a valuable food source. Truffle appreciation in France, appears to stem from the result of Italian influence, especially the move of the papacy from Rome to Avignon in 1309. In 1533 Catherine of Aragon arrived in France to marry the Duke of Orleans. She brought with her, a wealth of paintings, crockery and cooks. She is credited with introducing sophisticated cookery to France. When the first French cookbook, Le Cuisinier Francois was published in 1651, more than 60 recipes featured truffles.
The golden age of truffles was the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They enjoyed a heightened appreciation and a greater supply than at any other time in history. Recipes of the time called for "a dozen fine black truffles".
Alas, truffle production fell from a high of 1800 tons in 1902 to a mere 200 tons in 2008. Along with scarcity comes high prices. White truffles now command, in 2009, between $2000 and $4400 per kilogram and Perigord black truffles sell for between $1000 and $2000. There is however hope on the horizon for the frugal gourmet. The scale of cultivation of truffles world wide will eventually cause the price of truffles to drop dramatically, at least down into the realm of caviar and crab.
An array of good, fresh truffle recipes may be found at Vervacious, Fresh truffles and Fancy Food. These recipes generally call for ½ to 1 ounce of truffles per person, translating to $30 to $60 per person for the truffle ingredients. A feast of truffles and vegetables may be found at the World Wide Gourmet. A good introduction to truffle taste may be truffle butter, described here and available for purchase here, if you are a U.S. resident