Truffle Dictionary

Essential terminology for Truffle Lovers!
Ganymede Truffles tree with a truffle at its base

Truffle Dictionary

Whilst obsessively thinking and reading of all things truffle and how best to write fascinatingly about them (!) I’ve come across a number of words and terminology, and it dawned on me that a Truffle Dictionary might be a novel idea.

As you will find the words defined below scattered throughout my blogs with gay and French/Italian/Spanish abandon, this list may prove quite useful.

  • androstenol, a sex hormone found in the saliva of male pigs
  • Bastardelli da Pagliaio – literally haystack mongrels, Piedmontese for crossbred truffle dogs
  • le brûlé – the “burnt” area beneath a tree where truffles grow
  • canifer – to slice off a corner of a truffle to check the inside and common practice (here it’s called a hunter’s nick)
  • cavages – truffle hunt in French – essential when wafting around Provence and neighbouring regions in winter
  • cave – the hole where the truffle grows
  • caver (verb) – to gather the truffle
  • criadillas de tierra – earth testicles, Spanish nickname for truffles (had to add that in!)
  • extra grade – grading truffles, extra grade being the finest
  • first grade – where the shape may not be as pretty as extra grade but the aroma, colour and taste are equal
  • Ganymede – in astronomy: moon of Jupiter, often referred to as a “Galilean moon”
  • hunter’s nick – a nick in the truffle to check the quality inside
  • melano – nickname for the black truffle (Melanosporum)
  • Mycelium – the vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacterial colony, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fairy Ring Fungi!! Fungal colonies composed of mycelium are found in and on soil and many other substrates.
  • mycorrhizae – a fungus which grows in association with the roots of a plant in a symbiotic or mildly pathogenic relationship
  • rabasse – Provençal for truffle
  • rabassier (le) – Provençal for the truffle hunter-gatherer
  • récolte (la) – harvest
  • sanglier – wild pig
  • Tartufo nero – Italian black truffle
  • terroir – earth or soil
  • trifolau – Italian for the truffle hunter-gatherer
  • trufa negra – Spanish black truffle
  • trufficulteur – French professional truffle grower
  • truffière – truffle plantation
  • truffle – also called earthnut (by whom?); any of various edible subterranean fungi of the European genus Tuber
  • truffleback – pain experienced in lower back post-hunt (made that up!)
  • truffler – English derogatory term denoting someone who snorts like a truffle hog (I never knew this and yet I survived an English boarding school!)
  • trufficulture – the production of truffles
  • tuber – a much thickened underground part of a stem or rhizome and/or ultimately the Latin origin of the word ‘truffle’
  • Tuber Aestivum – summer truffle
  • Tuber Borchii – or bianchetto, truffle of little economic value
  • Tuber Magnatum – Italian, Piedmont White or Alba truffle, highly valued and only grown in Italy
  • Tuber melanosporum – black truffle
  • Tuber uncinatum – burgundy truffle
  • vanghetto – Italian, a cross between a hoe and a harpoon used by trifolau
  • VOC – volatile organic compound (okay, you’ll never find that in one of my blogs)
  • Witches’ Circle – another term for the ”burnt” area beneath the tree. The dead grass, together with the truffle’s mysterious origins, led people to believe they were the work of dark magic, hence the term “Witches’ Circle”.Ganymede Truffles Brule under autumn hazelnut truffle tree

This may well become a work in progress as I discover more words to include. Feel free to help and add any I’ve left out!

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The Perilous Perigord Truffle Phenomenon in 2016

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