Want to know why truffles are so freaking expensive?
Because you have to hunt for them. Literally. In France, Italy and Croatia, dogs and pigs spend years training to sniff out the pricey fungi that grow secretly underground. You can read more on the subject via this extremely cultured blog post by David Lebovitz. His content is so sophisticated, it may just be enough to cancel out the low-class musings you’re about to encounter in the paragraphs below.
You’ve been officially warned.
Truffles have been on my mind as of late. It all started out when I made the highly productive decision to re-watch the entire anthology of Gossip Girl, beginning with Season 1. As die-hard fans may remember, the pilot episode features a scene shot in the bar of the New York Palace Hotel. After enjoying a few too many Belvedere martinis (with two olives, of course), Serena van der Woodsen pleads with resident villain Chuck Bass to fetch her something to eat. He produces a speciality item not found on the menu — a grilled cheese sandwich cooked with, you guessed it, truffle oil.
From that moment on, it seemed as if stupid old truffle oil was personally stalking me. The next encounter occurred as I was browsing recipe’s online. I’m planning a birthday lunch to bring to Scott’s office this week, and settled on the following recipe for white truffle mac and cheese, if only because it was the fanciest thing I could make in a portable Pyrex dish.
As if the truffles weren’t haunting me enough, Scott returned from work on Friday proclaiming we needed truffle oil for a pizza he planned to make. He’s recently adopted pizza making as a hobby (trust me, I will post about this later), and has been ordering random supplies off the internet for weeks. His latest purchase was some strange barley malt crystal powder that I’m assuming to be an ingredient in pizza dough and spell casting. I mean, why wouldn’t truffle oil be the next item on his list?
And so, my own personal truffle hunt commenced. As I found myself running errands at Target on Saturday, I decided it couldn’t hurt to see if they had any truffle oil. Sure, it was a bit of a stretch, but you never know what Archer Farms is going to have up their sleeve. After coming up empty-handed in the baking aisle, I decided I wasn’t about to give up hope just yet. Surely, Wal-Mart’s abundant grocery section would carry truffle oil. I mean, Wal-Mart has everything, right?
Everything but truffle oil, apparently.
Seriously — they carried hemp seed oil, hazelnut oil, walnut oil, macadamia nut oil…even sunflower and coconut oil! But there was no truffle oil in sight. (I’m totally writing Sam Walton a letter about this, BTW.)
Luckily, Wal-Mart is next to a specialty foods store featuring natural and organic products. They just had to have truffle oil. I quickly jaunted over to the shop, stared at the oil section for fifteen minutes, hoping that if I gazed with enough intensity, the truffle oil would magically appear. It didn’t. Next time I’ll bring Scott’s pizza dough barley crystals and see if casting a spell helps.
After three failed attempts, I was even more determined to posses the elusive oil. I stopped at the 24-hour grocery store near our apartment with more conviction than a truffle hunting pig who had been training for ten years for this moment. (Or maybe only two years…? I don’t really know how long the process takes. Or how long pigs live.)
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I was disappointed again. Overcome with defeat, my blood began to boil. How could I have possibly moved to a town with no truffle oil? That’s even worse than moving to a town with no stoplight!
I took a deep breath, collected myself, and marched out to the parking lot. I had one shot left — the newly remodeled supermarket with a delightfully vast specialty foods section.
Moments later, I found myself shaking with anxiety in the face of several bottles of olive oil. My worst fear had been confirmed — there was no truffle oil to be had in all of Small Town.
In the face of adversity, some of us rise to the occasion. Others will find a creative solution, a few of us will choke, and even more will just throw in the towel and give up.
And then there are those of us who say “What the hell” and buy large amounts of Cheez-Its.
Before anyone could recognize me, I grabbed a box, whizzed through self-checkout, and found myself at home, drowning my sorrows with Gossip Girl Season 2 and more powdered cheese product than I’d like to admit.
And of course they were white cheddar. I’ve got some standards, after all.
UPDATE: Scott was able to find truffle oil in bulk! At Costco! Hurrah! (Unfortunately, he was also able to find my discarded box of shame in the trash can. I’m not sure if he was more upset that I ate the entire box without him, or that I failed to recycle the packaging.)
Main photo by Poppy