103 LOW CARB FOODS, NUMBER 6 – Truffles

White Truffles
Note: I’m starting my list with luxury foods because I want to make a point that low carb does not equal hardship. Instead, I believe that enjoyment makes a low carb diet sustainable. I suggest embracing culinary fat and splurging whenever you can on luxury foods.

Truffles – Low Carb Foods, Luxury, #6

George Sand called truffles ‘the fairy apple,’ and Alexandre Dumas called them ‘the holy of holies for the gourmet.’ They need a specific soil to grow, rich soil found in forests in Piedmont, Tuscany, Marche, and in the Périgord region of France. Truffles usually grow under an oak, linden, or hazel tree, and they have a symbiotic relationship with them. Known as ‘tartufo’ in Italian, they grow underground, sniffed out by the sensitive noses of dogs or pigs. The Italians prefer the former, for dogs are less likely to swallow the precious find.

Truffles come in principle colours – white and black, and there are two seasons for each – summer truffles and winter truffles. Both reach peak flavour late in the season when they have matured. White truffles have a notoriously short shelf life – they must be consumed within a few days of harvesting. Black truffles last a bit longer. Because of this, white truffles carry a higher premium in terms of price.

If you locate them in a shop or on a restaurant menu, they will be a luxury, but they are delicious, low carb, and full of nutrition. I was lucky enough to spend time in and around Alba, Italy in truffle season. There, I enjoyed a variety of dishes with their famous white truffles. Although white truffles are perhaps most famous paired with tajarin pasta, they are also sliced and served on eggs and carpaccio of beef. I enjoyed it most on the eggs – I found the combined flavours irresistible.

A few notes:
  1. White truffles have a strong aroma but subtle flavour, so they don’t take kindly to cooking. In Italy, they are usually washed and sliced raw as a topping or garnish.
  2. Black truffles, on the other hand, can take a bit of cooking and infuse dishes with flavour. You might be able to find a good quality black truffle oil that will enliven a variety of meals, but beware – many truffle oils include artificial flavours and should be avoided.
  3. While I have cooked with truffles, I haven’t done so with great success. This is one ingredient I will leave to the professionals and enjoy out of the house.

The weather is getting cooler, and I love Italy in Autumn. I’ll sit here at my dest, far away in Ireland, and dream of restaurants around Alba, thin slices of truffles falling gently on my plate.

Why I’m writing a list of 103 Foods: When I changed my diet for health reasons, I spent the first weeks mourning the foods I could no longer eat. What’s the point in being miserable, though? By switching to focusing on the foods I could eat, and savouring every bit of them, I started enjoying food again. I also found hope for the future, especially as the weight fell off and my diabetes reversed. Now, I would love to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Finally, there are endless possibilities in terms of what to do with any food. Take that as a challenge, and let me know if you have any suggestions. I wish you happy eating.

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