Image by Flickr user Ulterior Epicure
European soils that have long been sniffed out by pigs in search of a fantastically expensive fungus are starting to lie still as an invasive breed takes over the continent. This dangerous threat? The Chinese black truffle, which is chasing the delicacy of the perigord black out of Europe and replacing it with an almost identical, but tasteless, fungus.
The perigord is prized in cuisine, and fetches the second-highest prices of any truffle, second only to the white truffles found in piedmont. The appearance of the Chinese black truffle has provided an ecological rival, which could out-compete or worse still, interbreed with the perigord, leaving European chefs without the ingredient that they’ve grown accustomed to for centuries.
The threat is serious enough that it has aroused the concerns of Claude Turat, a professor at the University of Turin, Italy, where he is performing research on the penetration of the Chinese truffle into regions once dominated by the perigord. The inroads, he says, have been significant, but represent more of a future threat than a present one. While harvests have fallen from 1500 tons in 1870 to 100 today, the perigord has yet to show signs of interbreeding and is just now encountering the Chinese truffle in the wild.[BBC]
We’ll even throw in a free album.