Robert Chang hunting for truffles in France
Robert Chang with truffle dog Fifi.
Ten Truffles
Truffles, truffles, truffles!

There’s nothing like a good truffle hunt in Europe. This past February, on the heels of the sixth annual Napa Truffle Festival, my colleague Dr. Paul Thomas and I ventured to Cahors, the heart of the French truffle producing region, just north of Toulouse. Our purpose: to hunt truffles, of course! Now this was REALLY the countryside – very little traffic, tractors taking their time driving on the road, spotty cell reception, and breathtakingly peaceful and beautiful. Over the centuries, this is where much of the French truffle production came from. Here, we had the opportunity to go truffle hunting with a local truffle hunter, who took us to an undisclosed location deep in the forest with her trusted truffle dog Fifi (meaning lucky). Within about an hour, we came away with about 10 golf ball to racquet ball sized truffles (see picture). *These were the freshest truffles one could ever dream of having, and their aroma was simply intoxicating.

Robert Chang with scale
Manual scales are still used in Cahors.

A lot of truffle production in this part of the world still revolves around tradition. Even when truffles are traded in the market, a manual scale is almost always still used. I haven’t see one of these old, manual scales in ages!

World's Largest Truffle
The world’s largest truffle, 1870.

Another highlight of our trip to Cahors was when we came face to face with the world’s largest black truffle ever harvested. This enormous truffle was unearthed back in 1870 and weighed 10.34 lb (4.7kg)! It became an instant legend and was sent around the world to make the rounds at major fairs, starting with the Paris International Exposition of 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was constructed as the entrance to the exposition.

The whole gestalt of truffles—history, mystique and flavor—continue to amaze, surprise and delight me and the world!

*Unfortunately, by the time most truffles travel from this part of France make it to the U.S. (it takes 4-5 days), they have lost half of their aroma and flavor. It’s exciting to know that once American Truffle Company’s client-partners’ orchards start producing fresh Périgord and Burgundy truffles in North America, we’ll all be able to enjoy ultra-fresh truffles comparable to the ones we had in Cahors.