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April 02, 2018

On the Hunt for Truffles in Southern France

Truffle hunting dog

Allow your senses to guide you on a culinary journey in pursuit of Southern France's most coveted, decadent mushroom - the truffle. This subterranean treat grows in the roots of trees--like oak, hazel, and beech--and can be found up to 15 inches underground. Truffles have been regarded as a delicacy for centuries, with the first mentions of the mushroom being consumed by ancient Egyptians and later by noble Greeks and Romans. Due to their exotic aroma, they were nearly outlawed during the Middle Ages after the church decreed they were a product of the devil. It wasn't until the Renaissance that truffles regained popularity thanks to Louis XIV's fondness for them.

What do truffles taste like?

Those who've been lucky enough to taste a truffle say its flavor is inexplicably delicious, with an aroma that's rich and earthy. In fact, it's this highly specific scent that allows animals to sniff out the exact underground locations of these dark delicacies. Traditionally, pigs were the designated truffle hunting companion, but after one too many were found to be snacking on the spoils, many hunters switched to dogs.

Hunting for truffles with an expert

French chef Jean-Marc Larrue has led several expeditions for truffles deep in the French countryside and says that the thrill of the hunt is often just as exciting as the bounty itself. "Truffles are like France's black diamond. It takes effort to find truffles--they're not like fruit in a tree. You must rise early in the morning and take your dog or pig (or borrow your neighbor's), to sniff out the truffles, as they are found underground-with some as deep as 40 centimeters. You must watch, smell, and listen. If all your senses are open, nature will give back to you."

On your journey through Southern France, you'll set out just as dawn breaks to hunt for the black truffle, also known as the Perigord truffle. With a local chef and his keen-sensed dogs, you'll rely on nature's clues and the powerful sniffers of your furry friends to guide you and your fellow hunters to these delectable mushrooms. Après hunt, you'll get to toast to your day of adventure and savor a meal with the delicious black truffle.

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