The white truffle of Alba, or the Tuber magnatum pico, has been known and used by man for centuries. During the Roman period, white truffles were believed to contain divine powers, related to the cult of lightning, and were known for their therapeutic an aphrodisiacal properties derived from the god Jupiter. In the Middle Ages, the discovery of white truffles was associated with the dance of witches. It was not until 1831 that the botanist Carlo Vittadini scientifically described and classified truffles in his book, Monographia tuberacearum.
In Piedmont, white truffles grow in a region that includes the Langhe, Monferatto and some parts of Alessandria. The tartufo bianco di Alba is characterized by its irregular shape, due to the hardness and unevenness of the soil in which it grows. This type of truffle is yellow-green in color and smooth to the touch. The interior color varies from white to yellowish-grey, with thin white veins.
Due to the unique and intense aroma of the white truffle, it should be served raw on rice, pasta, meat and eggs. A National Truffle Fair is held in Alba, the center of truffle production, every October and November. The fair is the ideal place for people to learn more about this precious truffle. Food lovers and international chefs come to Alba for the famous truffle auction, of which all proceeds go to charity.
In the library
A. URBANI, Profumo di tartufo, Milano, Forte, 1983.
FAMIJA ALBEISA, Il grande libro della cucina albese,: storia, tradizioni, storie, Alba, Famija Albèisa, 1996.
D. PAOLINI, Cibogavando. Gli itinerari per scoprire i tesori golosi italiani, Bologna, Edagricole, 2003.