Primo and Scilla took the lead deeper into the woods near Amandola, in central Italy. They covered acres of terrain, across a gurgling brook, up a muddy slope, over mossy tree limbs, through a tangle of vines and brambles. For nearly three hours, their instincts were on high alert for white truffles, a delicacy that is under threat due to climate change.
The white truffle is one of the most expensive foods on the planet, with prices reaching up to 4,500 euros per kilogram in Italy. In the finest restaurants, the price will multiply with a single dish. Given the supply constraints, truffle hunters are set to converge on Alba, Italy, the truffle capital, to participate in an auction.
Truffle experts predict that with extreme weather, shrinking woodland habitat, and high demand, sky-high prices will be the norm in the future.
The white truffle, also known as Tuber magnatum Pico, has always been difficult to find. It grows in select spots in Italy, colonizing near the roots of oak, beech, and poplar trees.
On a recent hunt, the truffle hunter pointed out the scenes of his past conquests, while the dogs patrolled the ground. However, there were no truffles to be found that day, which Mr. Galiè attributed to the climate, specifically a bone-dry summer and an autumn drought.
Ancients called these aromatic fungi “the food of the gods” and considered them aphrodisiacs.
Truffle hunters are facing challenges due to climate change, which is creating a downtrend on the availability of truffles, resulting in high prices.
After coming up empty in the woods, the next stop was a truffle fair in Amandola, where vendors displayed their aromatic finds.