Written for the Writing Food course at UBC
October 29, 2002
I am addicted to truffles. Not the chocolate kind. But the earthy, musty, fungal sort sought after by the keen snouts of dogs or pigs and their gourmand owners. The smell of truffles often brings me back to the cooking lesson in a fortress-come-restaurant in SantAngelo, Tuscany. We, my newlywed husband and I and five others, are crowded into the miniscule kitchen with the larger than life chef Andrea. By now we were accustomed to the routine: sip some wine, chat with the chef, check out the wine cellar, try another bottle of wine, eat a snack, help prepare the evenings meal, have more wine
As we chatted and tended to tortellini fillings, it was time for yet another snack. Andrea placed a well seasoned sauté pan onto the fiery burner. He doused the scorching pan with grassy olive oil and deftly cracked in two eggs. As the orange-yolked eggs sizzled and spat, Andrea reached into the fridge and produced a tub of truffle purée. My heart began to beat a little faster, my eyes glazed over and I sported that silly truffle-addicted grin.
Andrea proceeded to liberally adorn the eggs with the truffle purée. Instantly, the heat of the eggs transported the heady fragrance of the truffles throughout the kitchen. He slid the eggs out of the pan onto a plate and passed forks around. We passed the plate and we each politely sampled the perfect egg-truffle marriage. As I lifted my fork to my mouth, the round, pungent aroma embraced me entirely. The egg and truffle seemed to form a sublime, symbiotic flavour relationship that merged into one. It made me wonder how one could exist without the other. I kept a watchful eye on that plate. When it seemed like everyone had lost interest in it, I slid it closer and irreverently devoured the last delectable morsels.
I still yearn for anything truffle and I still get a little weak in the knees when I smell them. Although Ive had many truffle moments since that golden autumn day, none will ever be quite as vivid or embracing.