Eat like an Italian: black truffles
Black truffles (tuber melanosporum) are found in southern France, Aragon (Spain), and in Italy in Tuscany and Umbria.
They grow underneath oak trees but also poplars and walnut trees.
Their color is black to brown and when grated, they will turn to an iron color.
Their surface is full of dense wrinkles and inside, when properly ripe, their color is grey to violet, grey to brown, or break to red (depending on the variety).
Classically, black truffles are shaved or grated over long noodles, like the pici or pinci of Tuscany. Or they can also be served over lightly seasoned scrambled eggs.
The important thing to keep in mind when serving black truffles — especially because they are rare and very expensive — is to pair them with simple, pure flavors that won’t overwhelm the delicate nuance of the truffles.
It’s also important never to heat the truffles excessively: they need heat to release their flavors and aromas but over-cooking will mute their delicacy.
A favorite way to serve black truffles in Umbria: gently heat grated truffles in extra-virgin olive oil over low heat with a garlic clove and then toss with handmade fettuccine cooked al dente and a judicious amount of clarified butter. An anchovy or two (cleaned and smashed) can be added to the truffles as well.