I celebrated today with two types of Truffles.  The Mushroom, and the chocolate confection.

Truffles are small, round, black fungi that season between September and May.  Truffles grow underground and are harvested with Truffle Dogs or Female Pigs, that go out and hunt the scent of a truffle. The female pig becomes excited upon smelling a chemical in truffles that is similar to the male swine sex attractant, but using a pig to find truffles you also run the risk of having the pig eat the truffle.  For this reason, dogs prove to be a better hunter.  They can be trained to hunt the saint and retrieve it instead of eat it.  A truffle is rare to find (Why they are so expensive), but once an area is found it can provide truffles for years. – It is also imperative to collect truffles at the proper time, right when the spores are mature enough to release, or else it will have a weak flavor.

Another factor leading to the expensiveness of truffles are their increasing rarity.  Fewer and fewer are found each year.  In 1890 it is recorded that 2,200 tons were harvested.  In 1914 it was 300 tons.  And in recent years it is only 25-150 tons.

Truffles are much more rare in The United States than in Europe and North Africa.  The organism has been brought to the US in attempts to cultivate.  The fungus took quite well to the climate and conditions of Oregon.

For this part of my celebration I had some pate with truffles in it.

For the chocolate part  I searched store right until 11:59pm to finally find an individually wrapped truffle.

The original Chocolate Truffle comes from France, and was named after the Truffle fungus due to its dark round appearance.  It was simply a ball of ganche (chocolate and cream) rolled in cocoa powder.  The truffle was invented in France in 1895 by M. Dofour and becmae popular at the Prestat Chocolate Shop in London in 1902.  The truffle boomed in popularity after famous chef Auguste Escoffier created a version of in the 1920s.  he is also sometimes credited for inventing it.

There are 3 types of Chocolate Truffles-

American: Invented in the 1980’s by Joseph Schmidt.  A half-spere shaped truffle made of milk chocolate and butterfat.

European: Syrup, cocoa powder, and milk powder.

Swiss: Melted chocolate, dairy cream, butter, cocoa powder.  These have the shortest shelf life of any other truffle and should be eaten within a few days of production (perhaps why Lindt Truffles taste so gross at the store, but delicious from the factory.)