Is Global Warming Responsible For Rise in Black Truffle Prices?

Found mostly in the Perigord Noir, an area of southwest France, the black truffle is prized for its pungent flavor and aroma and is added to just about everything in this region of France. Often called black diamonds and dreadful looking, slices of them are placed under the skin of end of year holiday food like geese, chickens or capons, added to home-made fois gras, or grated over potatoes or eggs.  Consequently, they are in demand during the days leading up to December 24th when larger quantities of the black truffle are sold more than any other time of the year.  According to a New York Times article, the price for this black, subterranean mushroom is now about $1,200 per pound.  

The up turn in price is the result of the down turn in harvest, according to the paper.  A group of British Scientists have discovered a correlation between amount of rainfall and the size of the truffle harvest.  Over the past several years, temperatures have been hotter in the Mediterranean basin and rainfall has declined.

Truffles have been eaten for centuries.  Still rumored to be an aphrodisiac, the Catholic Church banned their consumption during the middle ages! They grow around the roots of oak and hazelnut trees and, when ripe, produce a strong scent.  Pigs have traditionally been used to find the gnarly, black mushroom.  They have a strong sense of smell and love truffles.  All too often however, the pigs would eat the truffle before the hunter could harvest it.  Pigs are large, strong and difficult to control.  Today, trained dogs are more the norm; they are much easier to manage and don’t care for the taste.

During the trip to the Dordogne in June, 2013, we will visit our renowned truffle-hunting friend, Edward, on his property and learn the art of finding black truffles with his trained dogs.  After our truffle hunt, we will have a glass of wine while tasting some delicious black truffle delicacies.  Buon appetit!

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Is Global Warming Responsible For Rise in Black Truffle Prices?

Found mostly in the Perigord Noir, an area of southwest France, the black truffle is prized for its pungent flavor and aroma and is added to just about everything in this region of France. Often called black diamonds and dreadful looking, slices of them are placed under the skin of end of year holiday food like geese, chickens or capons, added to home-made fois gras, or grated over potatoes or eggs.  Consequently, they are in demand during the days leading up to December 24th when larger quantities of the black truffle are sold more than any other time of the year.  According to a New York Times article, the price for this black, subterranean mushroom is now about $1,200 per pound.  

The up turn in price is the result of the down turn in harvest, according to the paper.  A group of British Scientists have discovered a correlation between amount of rainfall and the size of the truffle harvest.  Over the past several years, temperatures have been hotter in the Mediterranean basin and rainfall has declined.

Truffles have been eaten for centuries.  Still rumored to be an aphrodisiac, the Catholic Church banned their consumption during the middle ages! They grow around the roots of oak and hazelnut trees and, when ripe, produce a strong scent.  Pigs have traditionally been used to find the gnarly, black mushroom.  They have a strong sense of smell and love truffles.  All too often however, the pigs would eat the truffle before the hunter could harvest it.  Pigs are large, strong and difficult to control.  Today, trained dogs are more the norm; they are much easier to manage and don’t care for the taste.

During the trip to the Dordogne in June, 2013, we will visit our renowned truffle-hunting friend, Edward, on his property and learn the art of finding black truffles with his trained dogs.  After our truffle hunt, we will have a glass of wine while tasting some delicious black truffle delicacies.  Buon appetit!

Rome’s Colosseum Restoration Finally to Begin

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

It’s been two years since the decision was made to restore Rome’s Colosseum and it is finally scheduled to begin this month.  Funded by the CEO of Tod’s, a toney Italian leather goods manufacturer, the 25 million euro (about $32.5 million dollar) project will take between 2 and 3 years.  In return for his generosity, Diego Delle Valle, Tod’s CEO and president, will get advertising rights for 15 years.

Fragments of the 2000 year old have icon have been falling off for years and it is now thought that it is also leaning about 16 inches. There is a plan in place for the monument to be encircled by cast iron columns 15 – 50 feet from the structure in order to protect tourists from falling pieces.  As for the listing, Engineers suspect it might be caused by a break in the concrete slab on which the Colosseum was built.

 In addition to the restoration of the siding, new gates and the shoring up of parts of the underground areas and pathways, the whole structure will receive a thorough scrubbing to remove the blackened layer due to air pollution.

 The Colosseum will stay open during the work and at the end of the refurbishment, about 25% more of the arena will be open to the public.

There has been some controversy about the funding of the project.  It’s been over 70 years since anything has been done to the Colosseum and since that time, the structure has fallen on hard times:  pollution, traffic, more tourists and 2 subway lines (causing the structure to shake).  The Italian government has not been able to come up with the funds and, even though we may see more about Tod’s shoes, I think it’s worth it.  To me saving a 2000-year-old structure is worth the expenditure of 15 years.  The longer a deteriorating monument goes without some shoring up, the more expensive it will be.

What do you think?  Weigh in and let everyone know what you think.