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Taming the Truffle: The History, Lore, and Science of the Ultimate Mushroom Hardcover – January 4, 2008
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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Anyone who’s ever tasted a fresh truffle appreciates firsthand the sensual, almost primitive, allure of this fungus’ unmistakable, powerful, penetrating perfume. Gourmets endlessly debate the relative virtues of Italy’s white truffle and France’s black truffle, but properly selected and prepared, either can gratify. Both the truffle’s rarity and the idiosyncrasy of its traditional harvesting with trained pigs or dogs to sniff out its underground lairs add to this mushroom’s allure. Demand for truffles and a decline in the annual harvest have caused prices to skyrocket, leading to fraudulent marketing and to increasing attempts to cultivate truffles beyond their wild habitats. The authors survey Europe’s, Asia’s, and America’s truffles and distinguish each subspecies’ biological and culinary characteristics. They lay out the problems and the successes of commercial truffle production. This is technically detailed and abstruse data, but aficionados, chefs, and cooking students can learn a lot here about these lords of the fungi realm. --Mark Knoblauch
“Aficionados, chefs, and cooking students can learn a lot here about these lords of the fungi realm.” —Booklist
“Even if you don’t crave growing truffles, this informative and highly readable book reveals the fascinating mysteries, lore, and biology of this ultimate food better than any other book in English. It is a paragon of science written for the interested layperson.” —Gastronomica
“The pleasure of truffles can be both gustatory and emotional; likewise, this book provides both substantial information and evocative folklore.” —Wine Spectator
“[The authors] reveal the state of the art and science of producing the ‘ultimate mushroom’ in a splendidly interesting and informative way. . . . This book is outstanding.” —Inoculum
“This fascinating, lavishly illustrated volume. . . will keep the reader engrossed through site preparations, irrigation methods—and, yes, the actual tasting of the truffle.” —Lavender
“Filled with high-quality color photographs. The prose matches the elegant pictures nicely, even humorously at times, and takes the reader through the history of truffle hunting and cultivation. . . . [It] would certainly attract all levels of mycologists from beginner through advanced, but it has the allure and witty prose to inveigle those who never imagined they could share our love and interest in fungi.” —Fungi
“A fascinating new book.” —Orange County Register
“You should buy this book. . . . It is pretty amazingly thoughtful and comprehensive and will surely become dirt-stained and probably also soiled by your truffle pig as you develop your empire. Really.” —Cornell Mushroom Blog
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a lovely, luxurious book with many pictures and drawings. That the authors have a wonderful sense of humor is evident in the writing.” —Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas
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More particularly, it is THE definitive work, so far, as regards the black Perigord truffle (or tuber melanosporum) and the white Italian truffle (or tuber magnatum), not to mention the many world regional variants such as African desert truffles or Oregon native truffles. As the black truffle currently runs about $1,000.00 per pound, and the Italian white runs about $3,000.00 per pound, this book would obviously be of interest to anyone wanting a legal high cash crop.
"Taming the Truffle" is, in addition, filled with fascinating information, not limited to such tidbits as the name of the French chef who first paired the Perigord truffle with foie gras, or the unsettling fact that in the 1970s, French scientists did such an inadequate job of isolating t. melanosporum spores that they mistakenly inoculated thousands of hectares of tree seedlings with the less valuable and more virulent t. brumale spore system, thus ruining France's attempts at restoring her indigenous truffieres.
Most valuable, at least for the prospective grower, is that this book gives the clearest information that I have seen as to the terroir and growing conditions of t. melanosporum and t. magnatum, together with an exhaustive bibliography of just about everything written (popular or scientific) on the subject of truffles.
This is not to say, however, that with this book, thousands of dollars worth of inoculated seedlings, and a few tons of calcium carbonate strewn on the ground, one will start digging up truffles in five to ten years. As the book points out in elaborate detail, the planting and care of a truffiere (or truffle farm) is a very knowledge intensive process, requiring an extensive practical experience in, among many other things, soil science, microbiology, mycology, arboriculture, agricultural management, plant pathology, and marketing.
But this book does a better job than anyone else I've seen of indicating the problems involved and the knowledge and skill set necessary to start a working truffiere.
While some reviewers have taken exception to the fact that the book does little to speak of U.S. truffieres, I look upon this as a feature, not a bug. The book's emphasis has been on the largely successful work of introducing truffle producing trees to Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. One could do far worse than the authors of "Taming the Truffle" have done. I do not see how they could have done any better than they have.