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Taming the Truffle: The History, Lore, and Science of the Ultimate Mushroom

Ian R Hall, Gordon Brown and Alessandra Zambonelli
304 pages, 160 col photos, 15 drawings, 12 tabs
Hardback | Feb 2008 | #167955 | ISBN-13: 9780881928600
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NHBS Price: £19.99 | $34/€25 approx.
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Whether the world's best truffles are found in Piedmont or Perigord inspires impassioned debate, but the effects of dwindling supply and insatiable demand for the elusive, ultimate mushroom are unquestionable: prices through the roof, intrigue and deception, and ever more intensive efforts to cultivate. The secrets of when, how, and where to collect truffles have been passed from generation to generation since ancient times, but artificial cultivation remains the holy grail.

Here in the most comprehensive practical treatment of the gastronomic treasure to date, the art and science of the high-stakes pursuit come together. Their enthusiasm and expertise leavened with wry humor, the authors explore the newest techniques; they describe the commercial species in detail along with their host plants, natural habitats, cultivation and mintenance, pests and diseases, and harvesting with pigs, dogs, truffle flies, and even the electronic nose. Pursuit of the fungus that costs more than gold is not for the faint of heart nor for those in a hurry, as under ideal conditions, truffle production in artificial truffieres can begin after three years but results may not be seen until a decade after planting, and maximum yields not for another decade still. So there is time to read and prepare, and no better source than this one.

Aficionados, chefs, and cooking students can learn a lot here about these lords of the fungi realm. -- Mark Knoblauch Booklist 20080101 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. -- Kathie Hodge Cornell Mushroom Blog 20080220 A fascinating new book. -- Cindy McNatt Orange County Register 20080206 The pleasure of truffles can be both gustatory and emotional; likewise, this book provides both substantial information and evocative folklore. -- Owen Dugan Wine Spectator 20081101 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. -- Kay Yount Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 20080701 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. -- Britt A. Bunyard Fungi 20081001 This fascinating, lavishly illustrated volume ... will keep the reader engrossed through site preparations, irrigation methods - and, yes, the actual tasting of the truffle. Lavender 20081121 [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. -- Jim Trappe Inoculum 20080701 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. -- Jim Trappe Gastronomica 20090101

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Ian R. Hall has traveled widely and his knowledge of mushroom cultivation is international in scope. His firm, Truffles & Mushrooms Consulting Ltd., aims to further the cultivation of edible ectomycorrhizal mushrooms. He also directs the activities of Symbiotic Systems N.Z. Ltd, a company that studies the beneficial effects of mycorrhizas in forestry. Hall has published on a variety of topics in addition to edible mushrooms and mycorrhizas, including the pathology of grasses oversown into tussock grasslands and greenhouse design. He completed his PhD at New Zealand's Otago University, where he studied with Geoff Baylis. After his post-doctoral fellowship with Jim Gerdemann at Illinois University, Hall returned to New Zealand to work as an applied mycologist and plant pathologist with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF Technology). Gordon Brown holds undergraduate degrees in liberal arts and commerce from New Zealand's University of Otago, and collaborated with Ian R. Hall on two previous books on the cultivation of truffles in New Zealand. Since 1991 Brown has edited at the Otago Daily Times (Allied Press) and previously was the southern region journalist for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF Technology). Brown has travelled extensively and witnessed first hand the turmoil in Southeast Asia in the early 1970s. He and his wife, Erina, run a proofreading and editing company, All Write NZ Ltd., which specializes in editing for Southeast Asian clients who speak English as a second language. Alessandra Zambonelli is regarded as a foremost expert in Italy on truffles. A professor and researcher specializing in mycology and applied plant pathology at the University of Bologna, she has published numerous articles on truffles and their cultivation. She is the president of the Italian Mycological Association (Unione Micologica Italiana) which connects mycological groups from all regions of Italy.

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