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Old 08-16-2015, 08:05 AM   #1
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Truffles

Hi,
I have a rather old recipe book, in which almost two thirds of the savoury recipes call for truffles. Now, from the way they are used liberally to garnish and ornament dishes, and used as larding in meat, I don't think he means truffles as in the strong mushroom. Does anyone know what it could be?

Thanks,
Gerard

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Old 08-16-2015, 09:32 AM   #2
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Welcome to DC!

I have never seen the word truffle used to describe anything other than fungus or chocolate.

Good luck!
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Old 08-16-2015, 09:47 AM   #3
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Hi and thank you!

Same here. It's annoying as so many of the recipes mention truffles but the book is from about 1850 and I think it must mean something else. From the way it is used I imagine it is something quite bland.

Gerard
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Old 08-16-2015, 11:03 AM   #4
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What is the country of origin and publication date of the cookbook. It appears in the late 1700s truffles were more commonly available.
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Old 08-16-2015, 12:16 PM   #5
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Interesting. I looked in to my Boston Cooking School Cookbook 100th anniversary edition. It's dated circa 1896 original printing.

This is all it says about truffles: "Truffles belong to the same family as mushrooms, and are grown underground. France is the most famous field for their production, from which country they are exported in tin cans, and are too expensive for ordinary use".

That's it. Apparently in the Northeast U.S. it was considered an "exotic, or cost prohibitive” ingredient 50 years after your book is referencing copious use of truffles.

I think real truffles must be milder than you are thinking. Maybe one of the experienced chefs here can tell us.

As liberally as some chefs like Mario Batali seem to use them freshly shaved over foods I can’t imagine they are as powerful as the truffle oils.

I have bought the top shelf truffle oil from an upscale grocery here and hated it. The stuff is nasty in my opinion. Tasted like eating some weird chemical. This store is so good, they gave me my money back. It was an expensive container. I have read that women like truffle oil better and interestingly my wife didn’t think it was as terrible as I did. Female pigs have been used to find truffles because the smell is similar to the sex hormone excreted by the male. Not to infer anything with that to human women, but I have read that it is a “pheromone” thing that makes human women like truffle more than men.

I wish I could find truffles where I am (in stores). I get that confused, curious dog look on faces even when I go to whole foods and ask for it. All they have is the oil and some truffle cheeses etc. At about $20 an ounce I’d like to try just one first to see if I like it. I know I hate the aroma of truffle salt too, so it may be a dead end search for me and an ingredient I just don’t care for. But I love mushrooms otherwise.

I too cannot find any reference to “truffle” other than the fungus and the dessert treat.
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Old 08-16-2015, 12:47 PM   #6
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Gerard, I think the book is talking about truffles the fungus as well. It was a fairly common peasant ingredient in France and northern Italy where they grow naturally. Trying to provide them to a modern world of chefs and foodies makes the price go way up.

There are many different kinds of truffles - they're not just one species - so how much to use would depend on which type you have, or, in the case of your cookbook, where it was published and who the intended audience was.

Here's more than you would ever want to know about truffles: http://www.trufflespecialty.com/en/truffles.html
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Old 08-16-2015, 01:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Gerard, I think the book is talking about truffles the fungus as well. It was a fairly common peasant ingredient in France and northern Italy where they grow naturally. Trying to provide them to a modern world of chefs and foodies makes the price go way up.

There are many different kinds of truffles - they're not just one species - so how much to use would depend on which type you have, or, in the case of your cookbook, where it was published and who the intended audience was.

Here's more than you would ever want to know about truffles: Truffles: history, biology, books, species
Interesting reading GG. Gerard, considering the price of truffles today, I would suggest you take a look at the fresh mushrooms that are available at you local Farmer's Market. Find a mushroom that you like and go with it. Keep in mind though that some mushrooms are only available during certain times of the year so you may have to change your choice from time to time.

BTW, I would love to have you show us some of the recipes in your book. It sounds interesting.
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Old 08-16-2015, 03:30 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the great answers, everyone!
Yes, Got garlic, I imagined it might mean some sort of more common mushroom, less strong than we think of as truffles today but still called 'truffle'.
The recipes are quite extravagant so price was not the issue, it was just that where he uses them, what we think of as truffles would taste overpowering, making me think they must be something weaker. For example: in a recipe for Turbot à la maréchale, (quite a delicate tasting fish) he places quenelles of whiting around it, half mixed with lobster coral (to make a red colour) and half mixed with chopped truffle. Presumably, the truffle 's main purpose here is just to make the quenelles black, as a strong truffle would overpower the whole dish, the quenelles and the turbot!
Addy and Andy M, the book is printed in London, 1886; the author is Charles Elmé Francatelli. Though most recipes are prohibitively expensive eg Wild Goose à l'Allemande (!), there are some good ones which are rather tasty and doable, and cheap:)
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Old 08-16-2015, 04:38 PM   #9
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I recently order a fresh truffle just to try, since Ive heard much about it over the years, but never experienced it other than as truffle oil.

IMO, It was much milder than the truffle oil. Also, the consistency is not the same as any other mushroom I have had. Its more firm, almost woody-like ( when compared to the more spongy consistency of a regular mushroom). Im glad I had the opportunity to try it. That being said, not sure I would invest the money to try it again
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Old 08-17-2015, 04:34 PM   #10
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Truffles

My 2 cents.

As GG states, there are a number of species of truffles, each a little different, but similar. I get a few ounces each year from Oregon. I use them shaved over salads, in pates, and in a few sauces. They also work well under the skin of fowl.


They are nothing like mushrooms, and the two are not interchangeable.

Good truffles are not strong flavored, but strong in aroma. That's one of my complaints. Not enough flavor for the buck. I'd venture that the strong ones are past their prime. Fresh are very aromatic, and not soft. The aroma reminds me of fresh peat.

I don't use truffle oil, but I understand that a lot of it is fake. The best is made from shavings and peelings.

I have a few old cookbooks with truffle recipes. Many specify "as many as you can afford" as a quantity. So barring an oak woodlot, a trained pig, and a lot of spare time, they were pricey way back when.
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