Living in the Dordogne The Perigord Black Truffle
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The Dordogne region is a lifestyle paradise for those that visit or purchase real estate in the Dordogne. Homes in the Dordogne are never far from purveyors of the finest foods in the world whether they be restaurants or the traditional market square. It is the perfect environment for “foodies” and wine lovers. Living in southwest France and the Dordogne and Lot region in particular one cannot ignore the importance of the truffle. For hundreds of years the truffle has been a sought -after item. The famous gastronome Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) called these subterranean fungi the ”diamond of the kitchen”. The ancient Greeks and Romans relished truffles believing the truffle to be an aphrodisiac. The French king Louis XIV and The Emperor Napoleon 1 were noted for their enthusiasm for them.   Truffles come in various shapes and sizes, from the size of a walnut to a tennis ball. The biggest truffle found in recent years was a truffle found in the Perigord region that was 1.3 kg. The price in local market is a round 1000-1200 euro per kilo for the best quality. Every year about 50 tonnes of this black diamond is unearthed. Hundreds of years ago the record was 1000 tonnes. Truffles are difficult to find and can only be found certain times of the year. There are markets in Sarlat and in the Lot in January and February every year where there are auctions and one can buy directly from the producers. There are several estates and Chateaux now being sold with ”truffle trees”. There are several trees that can produce truffles, but the most common tree in the Perigord Noir is the Chêne Vert, that is an oak tree that is green all year around. It does however take time as one has to wait about ten years to see if the trees produce. There is a multitude of biological factors that influence size and taste of the truffle. To find the truffle is also an art. Over the past centuries one used to use pigs to scour the forest. They where not so reliable as they would eat them as soon as they scented these gastronomical gems. Today the farmers have special trained truffle dogs; these dogs are extremely valuable for the farmers. After unearthing a truffle they are at their best within a few days. The truffle has a vey particular taste and one has to use it with simpler dishes not to dilute their essence in a complicated or overpowering dish. Typical truffle dishes are omelettes, scrambled eggs, pastas and salads or on top of foie gras or scallops. If is not necessary to use a lot just shave some fresh truffle on top of your dish. Another product is truffle oil or conserved truffles. This does not have the same excellent taste, but has the advantage that it can be used all year round. It may be that you property in the Dordogne is lucky enough to have truffles on it but if not you will not have to go far to purchase these “diamonds of the kitchen.” Written by Pascal Nyborg