The Hunt
The truffle hunt is a solitary autumn ritual that unfolds in the foggy half-light of dawn, in the forests of Piedmont. The best spots are a secret known only to the hunter and his dog.
     The growth of a truffle demands an almost magical coincidence of the perfect climate, the right soil, and the symbiotic friendship of a certain tree. They are found deep among the roots of oak, poplar, linden, hazel, and willow. The tree that sheltered them can be recognized by the truffle's flavor. Different types of truffles can be found in various locations in central Italy, Liguria, Sardinia, even in France and Spain, but the finest of all-the Tartufo Bianco D'Alba-is found only in Piedmont.
     To locate a small fungus that grows deep underground requires more than human skill. Traditionally, hunters used female pigs, who are sexually aroused by the truffle's aroma, but there was always the difficulty of preventing the sow from eating the truffle. Since the nineteenth century, dogs have been trained to follow the scent, and have proven more loyal. Water retrievers, a native breed that has hunted for centuries in the lowlands of Comacchio, are now favored among hunters for their special talent for sniffing out truffles.