This unusual, malodorous subterranean fungus of an unattractive form is – the truffle. The rare and expensive tuber that grows in the fertile Istrian soil is the ultimate gastronomic delight. The Istrian white truffle is one of the most highly prized in the world today.
The truffle was discovered by ancient Romans, well known gourmets, eighteen centuries ago. During the five centuries of Venetian rule, Motovun-Montona Forest was called St. Mark’s forest and only certain individuals were allowed to gather truffles. During the Austro-Hungarian rule there was only one final destination for the truffle – the Royal Palace in Vienna. However, even today it remains a gastronomic delicacy, although its position at the table hasn’t been defined yet: whether it’s food or just seasoning.
The culinary chefs agree upon one thing only: the truffle should be placed at the very top of the gastronomic delicacies list. The truffle is a mysterious and unique tuber, completely concealed underground. It does not dispose of a plant suspended above the ground and therefore, no human being is able to spot it, except for a well-trained dog tracing it by smell.
The land of our heart-shaped peninsula consists of two types of soil texture: the intensely red one in the coastal area and of the grey, clayish one in its central part. The truffle grows exactly in this grey soil, its epicentre being in the damp Motovun-Montona Forest constantly moistened by the Mirna River flowing through its woods. To be more precise, it is mainly spotted around Oprtalj-Portole, in Livade and in the Buzet area, where Buzet has already been renowned as the Town of Truffles.
And after all, what is a truffle really? Perhaps an odd looking potato-like bulb of highly unpleasant smell, but once you get used to it and its culinary uniqueness, you become its true and eternal admirer. You tend to get addicted to it as one does to any other worldly vice.