Magic mushrooms: A look at the allure of truffles

In the preface to his La Physiologie du Goût (The Physiology of Taste), published in 1825, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said that “whosoever says truffle, utters a grand word, which awakens erotic and gastronomic ideas.” Alexandre Dumas, writer of the iconic The Three Musketeers, once said of these mycological darlings, “They can, on certain occasions, make women more tender and men more lovable.” Indeed, truffles have a romantic history that stretches back through time to pre-biblical Babylon. The Romans obsessed over these treasures, importing pink truffles across the Mediterranean from present-day Libya.

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These rare fruits of the earth grow near the roots of beech, poplar, oak, birch, pine, and a few other trees in a symbiotic relationship and are classically located using trained pigs (specifically female pigs, or sows). After millennia of epicureans attributing magical and erotic powers to truffles, a team of German scientists isolated a hormone called androstenol in the mushrooms, a hormone found in humans and, in much larger quantities, animals of the porcine variety, which is why the trained sows so fiendishly seek these jewels.

Using truffles from the Périgord region of France (near the viticultural wonderland of the Rhone Valley) and the Himalaya, our Spinach Fettuccini highlights the sensual flavor of these exquisite mushrooms, playing them off of kale and pine nuts. The dish is tossed with olive oil and topped with fine parmesan. Indulge yourself, and let this decadent entrée thrill your taste buds.