James Beard Award–winning author Jacobsen (A Geography of Oysters) captivates with this dual narrative, both an eloquent and sensuous treatise on truffles and the enthralling story of his obsessive quest to learn everything there is to know about them. His love affair begins in the Piedmont region of Italy, at the peak of truffle season, where he smelled a white truffle for the first time. One whiff of the intoxicating aroma set him off on a passionate pursuit to learn more about the unassuming fungi: “I’d never understood the truffle thing, and now, suddenly, I had to.” From a nighttime truffle hunt with a famous trifulau (“as truffle hunters are called in Piedmont”) and a potentially illicit transaction in a hotel lobby to learning about the “false, misleading, and deceptive misbranding” of truffle oil in the U.S. and beyond, Jacobsen offers a thrilling dive into the secretive and lucrative world “of this subterranean wonder.” The real delicacy here, though, is the arresting prose used to convey his reverence and awe: “Slice open a truffle and you’ll see a beautifully marbled interior with a fine honeycomb of white veins... produce a dumbfounding cocktail of aromatic compounds.... No words can do justice to the scent of a white truffle.” While that may be true, Jacobsen definitely comes close. Agent: Angela Miller, Miller Bowers Literary Management. (Oct.)
Jacobsen captivates with this dual narrative, both an eloquent and sensuous treatise on truffles and the enthralling story of his obsessive quest to learn everything there is to know about them… Jacobsen offers a thrilling dive into the secretive and lucrative world ‘of this subterranean wonder.’ The real delicacy here, though, is the arresting prose used to convey his reverence and awe.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A Mark Kurlansky–esque romp through the science, history, and culture surrounding that most elusive of foodstuffs, the truffle…The author depicts a culture of truffle finding, trading, and eating that is as complex as the aromatic stew of ingredients that goes into one, and he commits to paper lovely images that combine both intrigue and a certain level of surrealism….It’s an altogether delightful narrative. Fans of pungent flavors—and pungent prose—will enjoy this mouthwatering grand tour of a culinary treasure.” - Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A deep dive into all things truffle…well written and full of interesting characters and fascinating facts.” - Library Journal
“Jacobsen goes on a fruitful quest to discover what makes truffle one of the most sought-after ingredients in the world… You'll leave Truffle Hound understanding why people feel so strongly about truffles and how to appreciate the extraordinary fungi.” - Veranda, "25 Best New Books To Cozy Up With This Fall"
“A worldwide catalog of truffle resources invites exploration, and some recipes give ideas for using the bounty.” - Booklist
“Jacobsen delves into the sometimes twisting history of this food, as well as into the science that makes truffle farming possible. Even as he examines the fungi’s complex history and analyzes questions about who gets access to truffles, Jacobsen’s writing remains accessible, unlike the costly object of his desire. Truffle Hound is a compelling story, but Jacobsen doesn’t leave readers empty-handed when the tale ends. The book also includes a glossary of truffle types, resources for acquiring your own truffles and recipes for after the decadent fungi arrives. It’s an appropriate finish to a delicious book.” - BookPage
“Delightful, informative, and so much fun to read, this book will inspire you to grab your four-legged friend and scramble into the forest, noses twitching, in search of your own dirt-covered delicacies.” - Fern Watt, author of ADVENTURE DOGS AND GIZELLE'S BUCKET LIST: MY LIFE WITH A VERY LARGE DOG
“Truffle Hound, like a truffle, charms by seducing us.” - Mark Kurlansky
“For centuries the truffle has been cooking’s most mysterious ingredient, from its forest-floor secret locations to its high-luxury dishes. This enlightening book opens a whole new window onto this terrific tuber.” - David McMillan, chef and co-owner, Joe Beef
“With wit and intrigue, Rowan Jacobsen casts a spell as alluring as the truffle itself, pulling readers into a foodie fever dream that moves like an Italian trifulau through the woods: brisk, clear-eyed, and full of high spirits.” - Langdon Cook, author of THE MUSHROOM HUNTERS
“A terrific addition to the oeuvre. What is special about Truffle Hound is its investigation of many truffles from many places. For all those who think of truffles in binary terms, as in T. melanosporum and T. magnatum, Truffle Hound will be a revelation.” - Eugenia Bone, author of MYCOPHILIA
“One of the most remarkable single-subject books to come along in a while . . . Jacobsen covers oysters in exhaustive detail, but with writing so engaging and sprightly that reading about the briny darlings is almost as compulsive as eating them . . . There may be no more pleasurable food than a raw oyster, there almost certainly is no better guide.” - Los Angeles Times on A GEOGRAPHY OF OYSTERS
“Written in an accessible style by a hard-core ostreaphile, A Geography of Oysters is a fun read, inviting you to join Jacobsen on his quest for an oyster-rich life. Yes, please!” - Washington Post on A GEOGRAPHY OF OYSTERS
“[H]ere are the Winesap, the Pound Sweet, the Maiden’s Blush and Black Twig, rendered in a vivid prose rarely seen outside of the wine list . . . For anyone who’s willing to get swept up in the grand romance of food, this handsome volume will make for seductive reading.” - Morning Edition, NPR, on APPLES OF UNCOMMON CHARACTER
There's more to truffles than fancy pasta and a huge price tag, as food writer Jacobsen (A Geography of Oysters) explains in this latest work. For starters, there are hundreds of species of truffle; most are inedible, but Jacobsen covers the eight or so varieties worth pursuing. He describes catching the bug for truffles and traveling through expected truffle-hunting spots in Italy and France, before branching out into Eastern Europe, England, the United States, and even Québec. He rides along on midnight truffle hunts, attends auctions and festivals, hangs out with a lot of dogs trained to find truffles underground, and meets distributors, farmers, and chefs. Along the way, he also manages to smell and consume many a truffle. At the end of the book, he includes a few simple recipes designed to bring out the best in the elusive and pricey tuber, along with a list of reliable sources for truffles and truffle-scented goods, and even breeders of truffle-hunting dogs and truffle-inoculated trees for those wanting to create their own truffière from scratch. VERDICT A deep dive into all things truffle that's somewhat repetitive in places, but well written and full of interesting characters and fascinating facts.—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH
A Mark Kurlansky–esque romp through the science, history, and culture surrounding that most elusive of foodstuffs, the truffle.
“White truffles,” writes James Beard Award winner Jacobsen, “are the world’s most expensive food.” Around that rare commodity has arisen a sophisticated trade network that begins with discovering the chemically complex fungus in the depths of oak forests throughout Europe, mostly. That job was first undertaken by pigs, which “are natural and enthusiastic consumers of truffles,” meaning that a truffle hunter needed to be sure that his porcine associates didn’t eat up the proceeds; most modern hunters have switched over to dogs, which are less interested in the truffles. (Besides, writes Jacobsen, if a rival hunter sees you loading your car with pigs, he knows what you’re up to and can follow you.) The author depicts a culture of truffle finding, trading, and eating that is as complex as the aromatic stew of ingredients that goes into one, and he commits to paper lovely images that combine both intrigue and a certain level of surrealism: “If Wes Anderson shot a John le Carré novel, he might well choose the Hotel Savona [Alba, Italy] for his set.” The money behind the story is huge, and truffles are often traded as if they contained pharmaceutical-grade heroin, in back alleys and parking garages—no surprise, since they are both scarce and heavily regulated. Naturally, Jacobsen writes, factory-food types are trying to grow them in greenhouses, but the results are relatively flavorless so far, with the air of “more raw leek than golden-fried garlic.” Jacobsen closes with a set of recipes, some improbable (truffletini, anyone?) and some resoundingly simple: “Many of the best ways to use truffles don’t require a recipe at all. Just grate into X before serving and save a few wafers for show….Just don’t truffle everything; less is more.” It’s an altogether delightful narrative.
Fans of pungent flavors—and pungent prose—will enjoy this mouthwatering grand tour of a culinary treasure.