History & Myth
In the beginning
Truffles have certainly been known of since very ancient times. In his Naturalis Historia, Pliny the Elder related about the truffle (Tuber in Latin). In the 1st century A.D., the idea that this precious fungus developed from the combined action of water, heat and lightning was passed on by way of the Greek philosopher Plutarch of Chaeronea. Various poets derived inspiration from this; one of them, Juvenal, explained the truffle as originating from a bolt of lightning struck by Jupiter near an oak (a tree held to be sacred to the father of the Gods). As Jupiter was also renowned for his prodigious sexual activity, truffles have also always been attributed with aphrodisiac properties.
The middle ages and the Renaissance
The truffle continued to be a very popular food, especially with nobles and high prelates. For certain „scientists“ of the period, its aroma was a sort of „quintessence“ which produced an ecstatic effect on human beings.
The Piedmontese truffle and Alba
In the 18th century, the Piedmontese truffle was ranked among the most delicious foods by all the European courts. Not to be forgotten as one of the greatest connoisseurs of this „fruit of the earth“ is the musician Gioacchino Rossini, who defined it as „the Mozart of fungi“.
Although the Piedmontese and Istrian white truffle has always been considered the finest, the White Truffle of Alba did not become world famous until the 1900`s, following the ingenious promotional activity carried out by the local hotelier and restaurateur, Giacomo Morra, who was rightly „crowed“ King of Truffles by The Times of London way back in 1933.