Photo: Claude Paris, FILE / AP Photo
How much is a black truffle worth? At $30 an ounce, a slim shaving can make decadent a dish as simple as scrambled eggs or plain old linguine. Right about now, a kilo of the fungi that looks like coal could soon land a muck-digger a cold 800 Euros at France's biggest market, Richerenches -- that's more than $1,000, twice what it was worth a decade ago. But word is that stocks are low and prices are inching ever higher. And to one Frenchman, a good truffle is worth a life.
Just before Christmas, farmer Laurent Rambaud was charged with shooting down a would-be truffle thief. "Black diamond" bandits are so often expected that one hunter sleeps with a rifle across his legs and another considered implanting GPS chips into his stock, reports the Global Post. The paper notes that climate affects truffle accessibility (ideal conditions call for light summer rains), as does construction, which "paves over rare hunting grounds." And "few young people take the time to learn the skills of unearthing truffles."
The trick is getting a good pig or canine to sniff out the goods from underneath oak trees as they mature from November to March, but it can take time to properly train your sniffers and longer to find the right oaks. And so goes high-class pick-pocketing. But, ye have been warned.