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Truffles

truffle, tuber, species and white

TRUFFLES, subterranean saprophytic fungi (q.v.), chiefly European Tuberacece, the mycelia of which grow in leaf-mold. Their fructifications arc edible, solid tuber-like bodies, ranging from the size of a filbert to that of a potato, and ultimately set free by the decay of the mycelium. There are several species of truffles, which are not only nutritious hut very much esteemed for their aromatic flavor and piquant taste, and are used in fine cooking, pites, etc. Although white truffles are some what in demand, it is the black or queen truffles (Tuber ciborium. T. cestivum, or T. melanosper mum) of England and France, which are in most demand, those of Perigord being con sidered as the finest. These are of varying size, and have a gray or seal-brown or nearly black skin, which is pebbled, or warty, with small angular protuberances. The firm in terior, with such a texture as has an immature puff-ball, is dark-brown, somewhat mottled by reason of its chambered structure, and retic ulated with the white films of hyphie. Truffles are practically never cultivated, in spite of various attempts, but are occasionally cared for in situ. They thrive best in limestone soils, and in such light, moist, but well-drained wood lands, as are frequented by the various species of trees near which the truffles prefer to exist possibly on their decaying roots. The tubers

are entirely subterranean, occurring either deep in the ground or close to the surface, ripen in winter and are dug out, either laboriously by unaided man with a sharp spud, or by the aid of dogs and pigs. The latter are com monly used in Perigord, their rooting instincts and fine nose for scent being turned to account. A trained sow will sniff the peculiar pervasive odor exhaled by a ripe tuber, and will make directly for it, either laying it bare or uprooting the solitary tuber, to be rewarded with an acorn or chestnut. Good intelligent sows in a prolific forest will unearth 10 or 12 pounds of truffles in a day, which will bring in a good price. Dogs are also used in the same manner, especially by poachers. The red truffle (Melanogaster varie gatus) is, like the false truffle (Scleroderma vulgare), allied to the puff-balls; and Terfezia leonis is the white, potato-like truffle of Italy. The African species of Terfezia and Tininannia, somewhat inferior in quality, in some parts of Algeria and Tunis form an important food supply for the people.