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.