The Truffle Underground: A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem and Manipulation In the Shadowy Market of the Most Expensive Fungus

Ryan Jacobs. Clarkson Potter, $16 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-451-49569-3
Investigative reporter Jacobs, who writes for the Atlantic, digs deeply into the international truffle business in this fascinating work. Truffles are “revered as one of the finest, scarcest, and most valuable ingredients in fine dining,” Jacobs writes. Traveling to France and Italy, where the most sought-after varieties grow, he found an under-regulated business of foragers and shady middlemen who sold the prized fungi to restaurants and distributors. Jacobs also uncovered a dangerous world of criminals who poison or steal other hunters’ prized truffle sniffing dogs, and a French farmer willing to shoot and kill to protect the truffles that grow on his property. Jacobs interviews truffle experts such as American octogenarian Jim Trappe, a scientist who spent his life studying “mycorrhizae, the types of fungus that form in symbiosis with the roots of trees.” The book culminates a case of corporate fraud in 2003 in a California court, against the world’s biggest truffle company, Urbani U.S.A., which sold cans of Chinese truffles intentionally mislabeled as black truffles. This deeply researched and eye-opening account of the lengths people will go for wealth, gratification, and a taste of the prized fungus will captivate readers. (June)
Reviewed on : 02/07/2019
Release date: 06/04/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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