Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Truffle Rush

The Istria Peninsula in Northern Croatia is the Klondike of the culinary world. Every October, among the Motovun forests near the Livade village and along the banks of the Mirna River, there are swarming hoards of people and dogs – some sources claim as many as 15,000.

If the price of gold on the international market is 17.5 euro per gram, the truffles that these groups are after reach up to 10 euros per gram. Unlike the search for gold, going after truffles requires a physical exertion no more difficult than a walk in the forest with a suitable dog. Besides, the precious mushrooms tend to grow in massive lumps, weighting up to a kilogram and a half.

The discovery that the Croatian peninsula in the northern Adriatic is exceptionally rich in truffles, of course, was made by an Italian. This happened at the beginning of last century and the business in Istria has been growing steadily since, together with the price of the mushrooms on the international market.

Unlike other places in Europe, however, in Croatia it takes place illegally. The local truffle “hunters” are grateful that the government hasn’t yet calculated its losses from taxation and hasn’t made moves to cut down on the illegal trade. According to the registers, the licensed pickers of the precious mushrooms are around 500, but eyewitnesses claim that, between October and January, during the season, they might be as many as five times more than that. The fact that every single one of them raises a dog breed specialised in the search for truffles – brek, is a pure coincidence.



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