Istrian truffles have been extracted since ancient times, even Roman emperors and Austro-Hungarian aristocrats had a taste for truffles, not least because of the aphrodisiac qualities attributed to them. Truffles were once consumed and gathered like potatoes-that’s how plentiful they were.
That was in the 1800s. No longer, of course. Still, their fine shavings leaves an unforgettable earthy aroma and an irresistibly strong taste to pastas, salads, omlettes, beef specialties and more.
Economics and truffle scarcity being what they are, the Istrian truffle has become a hot commodity indeed. These days, for example, much of what is sold by Italy as Italian white truffles actually comes from Croatia-not least, from the moist woods around medieval hilltop town Motovun. For one thing, truffles grow underground in a symbiotic relationship with the roots of oaks certain other trees. As such they cannot readily be seen. It is their scent that gives them away a swoon inducing scent. Sows were once the truffle hunters favored companion, as truffles smell a lot male hogs. These days, dogs are the truffle best friend.
For another thing, truffles are extremely rare. Most efforts to grow them domestically have failed, not least because you first need to grow a forest full of trees whose roots are just right for truffles.