Why White Truffles Cost $2K a Pound

It's surprising, considering they smell like 'a locker room'

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 23, 2010 5:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Truffles: They’re a featured ingredient in a $1,000 bagel or the similarly priced “Golden Opulence” ice cream sundae. So what is it about these mushrooms, the white truffle in particular, that make people willing to spend $2,000 a pound on them? They’re rare—only available a couple months of the year from a limited area in Italy, and they have to be foraged by pigs—but does that make up for their smell? One chef describes it as “disconcerting. It conjures up images of a locker room.”

But, she continues, “the aroma deceptively conceals their complex yet delicate taste. They are sublime.” But there are fewer each year, and currently not enough to meet demand. “The market just has to live with that, because truffles can't be faked or formulated,” says one importer. To Josh Ozersky, that’s a good thing: “If truffles could be put into mass production and sold at Whole Foods, they'd be cheaper, but their mystique would evaporate,” he writes in Time. “And with it much of their value to the world.”

Auction organizer Giselle Oberti shows an Italian white truffle. Auction organizers said the specimen, which weighs 2.37 lbs, will be put in a charity auction on Nov. 29, 2008 held on Macau island.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
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