Fungus balls that smell of rotten eggs…

Renowden’s first law of truffle journalism states that, however good the story, a journalist writing about truffles will inevitably end up spouting bollocks. Today it’s the turn of the Daily Telegraph‘s Hilary Clarke [Link].

I mean, it’s a good story. Soaring truffle prices driving tartufaio to piracy in an attempt to cash in on soaring prices. “…the village bars in the hills around Asti are awash with tales of sabotage and skulduggery. Car tyres have been slashed, paths scattered with nail barbs and poisoned meatballs left in the undergrowth to kill hunter’s dogs.” Happens every year, but let’s not let that get in the way of the story.

Where Clarke goes hilariously off the rails is in her attempt to find a telling description of what white truffles are: “White truffles are fungus balls that smell of rotten eggs but taste of garlic.” Pardon? These things that sell for £1,100 a kilo smell of rotten eggs? And taste of garlic? The byline states that Clarke is actually in Asti (not very far from Alba, in the Piedmont), but if that’s the case, surely she could have managed a slightly more educated sniff. Or perhaps she’s anosmic.

One suspects that the celebrities attending this year’s big charity white truffle auction in Italy will not be paying through their collective noses for something smells of rotten eggs. And I hope that if Roman Abramovich (Chelsea FC owner) and Gwyneth Paltrow buy a truffle this year, they will ensure that their chef doesn’t let it rot before they get a chance to taste it.