Bumper season for Kalahari truffles

Kalahari truffles look like “dessicated donkey dung”, according to Robyn Dixon in the LA Times, but they taste good and there’s a bumper crop this year, thanks to a particularly wet summer in the Kalahari.

“When Dumenikus Freeman, 40, of the Nama tribe was out hunting for truffles last month, he happened upon a haul to remember for a lifetime. In a typical season, he might walk for hours and find a few truffles. But Freeman, his wife and children, hunting in the roadside grass, were plucking out truffles every few seconds. Sitting on the ground beside his donkey cart was a sack with at least 15 pounds of truffles, and it was only midmorning. Heavy rains had robed the Kalahari in luxuriant green this year, instead of the usual red dust, and spawned prodigious amounts of truffles, a bumper season unlike any that people can remember.”

Kalahari truffles are Terfezia pfeilii, a close relative of the desert truffles of North Africa and the Middle East. They lack the strong aroma and flavour of the French and Italian Tuber species, but they are still very good eating, as Dixon explains:

“Namibians are as inventive about Kalahari truffles as others are about the potato. They bake them, boil them, puree them, slice them raw with salt or serve cooked slices in a salad. Some barbecue them or grate them over pasta. Some fry them in lashings of butter and eat them on toast. Some recommend wrapping small ones in bacon and baking them whole. Others whisper their own secret: Cook them, but let them sit a night and eat them the next day, the flavors richer and enhanced. They like to slice truffles into thick disks or chunky cubes, with none of the delicate shavings, thin slices, strips, trimmings and peelings that the French truffle is usually subjected to.”

Another country to add to my world truffle tour.

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