“The Truffle Underground” by Ryan Jacobs

The Truffle Underground: A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World's Most Expensive Fungus

Subtitled “A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World’s Most Expensive Fungus”, this book occupies the intersection between food writing and travel writing. Not a bad place to be! Fun for all!

Personally, I’m only just sophisticated enough to know that the truffle of the title is NOT the soft chocolate confection that turns up in a Whitman’s Sampler. I’ve heard of the fungus called truffle, which grows underground on tree roots. Not sure I have tasted it, except possibly in “truffle oil”, a product that author Ryan Jacobs does not respect.

Truffles are a very high priced culinary delicacy. The best are harvested in France and Italy. Others originate in China, Tunisia and elsewhere. Attempts at cultivation have had limited success. Since the supply chain starts with individual “hunters” bringing truffles to dealers in hundreds of small European market towns, the truffle trade is hard to regulate, and fraud abounds.

This is Ryan Jacobs first book, but he has an extensive publication history with The Atlantic, one of my favorite periodicals. He currently writes and serves as Deputy Editor for Pacific Standard. His website says he specializes in international crime and intrigue. This is a young writer to watch!

I tried to find an  picture of a truffle. Like the fungus, the image proved elusive.

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