truffles from spain

Truffles from Spain



quality keen (2) prospect (2)
hunt plant (2) sense of smell
scrape check (2) back up (2)
truffle weight depending on
root wild (2) comprise
local dispute plantation
oak harvest make sure
spore seed (2) holm oak
hardly delicacy relatively
fungus nugget find/found/found
ideal sapling take hold
tip (3) fine (2) make out (2)
buy up imitate encourage
set up quantity sharp (2)


Video: Truffles in Spain



Mani is prospecting for gold — black gold. Mani is a truffle dog. His keen sense of smell is back up by the sharp eyes of professional truffle hunter, Ricardo Alcon.

He carefully scrapes the soil away — and finds two truffles, relatively small in size. But he also finds nuggets like this one, weighing about a hundred grams.

Ricardo Alcon, Truffle Hunger: “This truffle’s big enough for several people. Depending on what you cook, ten people could eat from it.”

A typical day’s harvest for Ricardo comprises three or four kilos.

These truffles don’t grow wild in the forest; they grow on a truffle plantation in Spain’s Teruel Province. Wild truffles used to grow all around this area.

But locals didn’t know how to make use of them.

Manuel Donate, Truffle Plantation Co-founder: “First the French came and collected all the truffles, and then the Catalonians.

It was only after a dispute over the truffles that they were something special.”

Now the local population is farming truffles for themselves. Manuel Donate starts holm oak saplings in his greenhouse. The root balls are seeded with truffle spores. Holm oaks provide the ideal conditions for growing the delicacy.

The fungus can hardly be found in the wild anymore.

So Manuel Donate decided to set up a special plantation.

A colleague checks to make sure the truffle have actually taken hold on the roots. Positive sign is when fine hairs can be made out on the tips.

Juan Maria Estrada, Agricultural Engineer and Truffle Expert: “We’re trying to imitate nature here by encouraging the symbiosis between the plant and fungus, and checking to make sure it’s working.”

If the truffles take hold, the saplings are planted out. Six years later, truffle hunters return for the harvest.

The farmers say the quality is so good, even the French are buying them up in huge quantities.

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1. People simply harvest truffles by themselves, like they harvest potatoes, radishes, beets, turnips and carrots. True or false?

2. “Mani is prospecting for gold — black gold.” Why are truffles considered “black gold”? Can people harvest many tones of truffles in one area?

3. Are the truffles in this region of Spain wild or cultivated?

4. Do truffles have a culinary tradition in Spain?

5. To cultivate truffles, farmers simply sow truffles seeds in the ground. Is this right or wrong? What plant does it have a symbiosis with? Which plant does the truffle grow together with?

6. Is truffle farming a long, complicated process? How long does it take before truffles can be harvested?

7. There is a huge demand for Spanish truffles. Is this correct or incorrect?


A. Are truffles popular in your city? What are they used for? Who eats them?

B. What are some expensive food items in your country? Why are they so expensive? Are they delicious?

C. Could you cultivate or raise them? Would they be profitable?

D. What will happen in the future?

E. What would happen if truffles (and ginseng, caviar, bird’s nest, shark fin) became plentiful and widespread?

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