|A Black Truffle|
Photo by: Lord-Williams
turmas, L. Terfezia arenaria (sandy, for the soil in which it grows), T. boudieri, T. claveryi, T. leptoderma, T. terfezioides, Tirmania nivea and T. pinoyi, Ar. terfez (Morocco), Eng. desert truffles. These species of fungi are global shaped and look like a small potato growing underground. They can grow to 3-7 cm in diameter. They have no roots, stems, fibers or branches. The flesh can be pinkish cream white, pink, black or brown with a reddish dun color coating. The spores are spherical and ornamented. Fungal filaments penetrate the roots of another plant from which the desert truffle receives its nourishment. It is smooth inside, smells like fungi and is sweet tasting. Outside it looks like an old prune.
It grows in semi-arid habitats around the Mediterranean in basic or in acid soils. It is abundant in Andalusia and Estremadura. They are collected in the spring but difficult to find. They are sought at sunrise or sunset. It is said they grow where the desert rag-rug flower grows. Actually they are found near species of the Helianthemin genus, relatives of the common rockrose. In the past they were thought to be related to truffles as their Spanish and English names indicate. Although very similar in appearance, now it is known that they may be distant cousins but they are not immediately related.
|Pigs have a snout for truffles!|
Lords do not let them out on their
estates during truffle season
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Desert truffles are more prolific than truffles and cheaper. According to the yield they can sell for as much as $270 a kilo or as little as $27. The Arabs say they are spawned by a clap of thunder and lighting and that their “number and size are influenced by the force of thunderclaps.” Actually there is some truth to this in that the rains have to be just right to start the germination of desert truffles in October and November. In January and for another two months they require dryer weather and a little rain. Once they are gathered, they must be kept in a dark room having a cold air current. They should be kept away from light, humidity, the refrigerator, plastic and people who mistake them for expired prunes.
Desert truffles were the food of Egyptian pharaohs, Hispano caliphs and the wealthy. Traditionally the Arabs have loved them even more than the Spaniards, who would debate that. Desert truffles are not as strong as truffles, which makes it possible to use them more abundantly in culinary preparations. Over the centuries they have been eaten raw in salads, boiled in camel’s milk, served in a cream soup ashes. See criadillas and trufa.. [ES: Fenney. Sep/Oct 02; ES: Flora. Sep 29, 04; ES: Martin. Sep 30, 04; and Villena/Calero. 63:ftn 144:24a:39b]
A DISH WITH TRUFFLES AND MEAT ADAPTED FROM HUCI’S TRANSLATION OF ANÓN AL-ANDALUS #276 PLATO CON TRUFAS Y CARNE, p 160
1 lb diced beef
2 c water
1 ½ c red wine
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp murri
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp white pepper
1 tsp corriander mashed
1 tsp caraway
Put meat in a heavy pot with water, wine, salt, murri, olive oil, White pepper, corriander and caraway. Bring to a boil and then simmer, boiling gently 1 hour or ½ hour if using a pressure cooker.
Peel the truffles, then cut them up and throw in the pan with salt, and when they are done, cover the contents of the pot with egg whites and bread crumbs and throw in the yolks. And when you put it on the platter, sprinkle with pepper and chopped rue, God willing, may He be praised, there is no lord but He.
 See blog titled almorí published August 25, 2011 for recipe.
 Truffles preserved in their juice and in jars were found at El Corté Inglés supermarket in Madrid, Spain at Euros 2.45 ($3.25). Four jars, containing two truffles each and the juice were used.
 As the truffles used were small, they were not peeled or cut up.