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The hunt for truffles begins

creato da Joanne Birnbaum ultima modifica 20/06/2008 13:45

Discover the secrets of gathering truffles on a Sunday morning in Lunano

Picture the scenery - vast chestnut forests, broken up every now and then by patches of oak, hornbeam and poplar trees. The guide, together with his trustworthy dogs, will take you along otherwise inaccessible paths up and down hill, on the adventure of hunting for truffles. After two to three hours your appetite will be sufficiently aroused and you can go and sample for yourself some traditional truffle dishes in local restaurants or at the truffle festival.

The hunt for truffles can be described as a passion and one of the most important traditions in Montefeltro. The secrets of the trade and the key to choosing the best dog are passed from generation to generation.
On a dull autumnal October morning in Lunano, you can spot people darting in and out of the undergrowth as early as six o’clock in the morning. Each gatherer has his own delegated area and keeps to this in a strict but very amicable way - in the evening the men meet up in the local bar and chat about their day collecting the truffles.
There are two unknown factors which are variables that a good gatherer has to bear in mind: the season’s weather and the dog. 2002 for instance was a dream year – every hole was a success. In 2003, a year with a prolonged dry season, for sure yields will be much lower. Then there is the dog factor. The age and experience of the dog are of paramount importance. He has to be stimulated but at the same time must have the feeling, as the roots can easily be ruined. All too often the dogs get side-tracked and go after the mice...

Truffle gathering in itself is actually quite straightforward: the gatherer follows the dog’s movements and as soon as he finds a truffle, the gatherer must steer the dog away, to avoid any damage by the dog’s nails. Then using two special types of hoe, he seperates the soil from the truffle and then instructs the dog to pick it up. Once the truffle has been extracted and the dog rewarded, the small hole must be refilled with the same soil. The gatherers do not try every spot – they must assess the movements of the dog and smell the soil before instructing the dog to go ahead and dig for the truffle.

So happy truffle hunting to you all!

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