Welcome ladies and gentleman to the main event of the week! In the category of Culinary Boxing here at Chef’s Mandala, we have weighing in at 4 ounces from Italy, please welcome truffle oil! His opponent, weighing in at 6 ounces also from Italy, please welcome fresh truffles!
LET’S GET READY TO RRRRR…….HAVE A SPIRITED DEBATE ON FOOD!!!
In the Red Corner – TRUFFLE OIL
Today’s challenger has been accused of doping on a level worthy of the Tour de France. A good portion of the truffle oil on the market is actually not infused with truffles. Synthetic truffle oil relies on chemicals like dithiapentane which mimic the smell and flavor of these mushrooms. While some producers will use extra virgin olive oil, others go with more neutral fats like grapeseed or canola. Fans of the challenger (which includes many high end chefs) praise its affordability combined with a long shelf life and ease of use. With but a dash before serving, this finishing oil can transform any dish into a decadent, truffle infused recipe. But can the Yugo of truffles take on a Rolls Royce and hope to win?
In the Blue Corner – FRESH TRUFFLES
Our champ certainly isn’t a fan of deodorant! Famous for his ripe, pungent smell and powerful taste, this underground fungus can only be found by specially trained dogs and pigs. One of the most expensive mushrooms in the world, a 4 lb (1.8 kg) white truffle can go for over $60,000 U.S. dollars! While Italy has reigned supreme as the truffle capital of the world, the Croatian peninsula of Istria has consistently produced white truffles of comparable quality. The musky scent of all truffles is very similar to the pheromones that mammals produce when they’re in the mood to get some….reproduction! However let’s be honest, who can afford the caviar of fungus even once, let alone on a regular basis? And like with some Italian tomatoes, truffles imported from China and Romania that are then re-packed as “Italian” products are a growing problem.
- The Play-By-Play
Ladies and gentlemen, there seems to be some commotion at the judges table, the ref is walking over while both fighters look on…
AND THE WINNER IS….
Fresh truffles win by disqualification! Truffle oil didn’t actually have any truffle in it to qualify for this fight. While the American and European Union food authorities might not have any issue with this misrepresentation, here at Chef’s Mandala culinary boxing we do! And if you can’t afford the real thing, look for truffle salsas that blend real truffles with extra virgin olive oil and mushrooms. The latter fungus mimics the texture of the truffle, and both the mushroom and oil absorb the flavor as well! It is a more economical but still authentic truffle alternative.