When he realised that he had found the "truffle of the century", he calmed the dog down, sat down and lit a cigarette, contemplating that gift of nature. Mauro Del Greco (photo on the right), a 50-year-old from Livorno received the "The Diamond Truffle" award in San Miniato. He found a white truffle of 2 kilos and 10 grams, lower only than the 2 kilos and 520 grams discovered by Arturo Gallerini in 1954. As a good truffle-hunter, he didn't reveal the "coordinates" of the finding, and simply says "if I had to tell you, I'dtell you a lie".
But who got the truffle "of dreams"? The 50-year-old maintains the strictest secrecy also about this. "I trusted a trustworthy contact, a restaurateur," he says, "but I can't say anything about the price or the buyer. It will most likely end up abroad". There was talk - indicatively - of 50,000 euros of value but the truffles of this "lineage" are like works of art, they do not have a standard price.
Surely Del Greco has to thank Enea, his little Lagotto dog and the incredible circumstances of that day: first, his car was broken, so he had to take his wife's car, which has no four-wheel drive. That's why he decided to go to a truffle shop near the road, where usually there are less than one or two truffles a year. As soon as they arrived the dog Enea had starting "rasping" (i.e. digging with her legs). At the time he didn't understand how big it was, so much that digging and digging he thought there were more than one truffle. Instead, in the end, it was a unique, giant piece, "the truffle I had dreamed of all my life".
History has its roots in the legendary mythology of truffle hunting, in a world that remains in the memories of our elders. Does the truffle pig, the nemesis of the #LagottoRomagnolo breed or the #RiccioPisano breed, really have a truffle "digger" tradition? Pigs had discovered these treasures well before man: until the beginning of the XX truffles were mainly "stinking potatoes" eaten by pigs, and even when found by man, thrown to the pigpen to the delight of the pigs. Since 1985, the pig can no longer be used in truffle hunting (if not in private truffle-grounds). Compared to the dog it has some advantages:
The pig is a "lover" of truffles and digs to eat them. Compared to the dog, the pig has a strongest and better developed sense of smell and look for truffles deep located in the ground, and not those it has been trained to look for. It also generally takes less time to train a pig.
There are also some cons: first of all the pig is more impacting on the ecosystem, it digs holes, destroys roots and even small plants. It must be said that it is not really easy to transport a pig, and compared to the dog, it tends to get tired earlier.
Mauro del Greco, from Livorno
The botanical name of the white truffle is "Tuber Magnatum Pico". The first two words are Latin and identify a tuber, which is actually an underground mushroom. Why the final addition of "Pico" then?
The explanation dates back to the XVI, in 1536 Ciccarello di Bevagna, a grower and author of the book "De Tuberibus" for the first time claimed that the truffle was a particular type of mushroom.
The Englishman Ray, in 1699 had highlighted the presence of seeds in the "mushrooms" and a few years later Geoffray (1711) was the first to correctly catalogue the truffle.
The name "Tuber Magnatum" for the white truffle is due to the Turin doctor Vittorio Pico, who in 1788 wrote a long thesis at the University of Turin on mushrooms, in which he defined the truffle (quoted) the "mushroom of the powerful". Since then the doctor's name was forever linked to that of the most sought after and precious mushroom in the world.