Northern Italy is the cradle for a precious culinary gem: the white truffle of Piedmont. Worth more than gold, the truffle is sought after by chefs and foodies alike.
But this year, the truffle hunters are in a panic as they discover that their usual harvest has been stolen from under their feet. Inexplicably, the bodies of murdered hunters turn up, but there are no truffles to be found.
A young man from Tuscany, in tow with his aunt and her restaurant crew, pursue the thieves through the hills of Piedmont, and the delicious wine and food of Italy.
The heady aroma of white truffles filled the air in the cavernous marketplace. The sales floor was enclosed in a large makeshift tent which seemed to trap and accentuat the fragrance, but more likely it was simply the soulful scent of tartufo bianco, the little tuber memorialized in poems and culinary prayers around the world, that scented the air. The mouth-watering smell of this delectable condiment could send chefs into paroxysms of rapture, and cause diners to outspend their budgets.
“One thousand euros for half a kilo?” The man with the stubby beard behind the counter cast a cold glance at his customer. The merchant was tending a small collection of chalky knobs, clumps unearthed just hours earlier, fungi whose unremarkable appearance disguised the truffles’ starring role in modern cuisine.
“E’ ridicolo!” he exclaimed. “I wouldn’t sell a half kilo of my truffles for less than two thousand euros!”
His neighbor, also tending a counter with dusty tartufi displayed like prized jewels in a glass case, chimed in.
“Si,” he said with a belly laugh. He considered the visitor, someone obviously not from Italy, and certainly not from Piedmont, where everyone knows the value of fine truffles. “These little gems are worth more than you know, but I can shave some off of this little one for that thousand euros you seem anxious to spend.”