Beneath the gloss of star chefs and crystal-laden tables, the truffle supply chain is touched by theft, secrecy, sabotage, and fraud. Farmers patrol their fields with rifles and fear losing trade secrets to spies. Hunters plant poisoned meatballs to eliminate rival truffle-hunting dogs. This exposé documents the dark, sometimes deadly crimes at each level of the truffle’s path from ground to plate.
... a lively exposé ... That culture of silence may be why many of the crimes Mr. Jacobs describes aren’t solved—they just fizzle—and why he had to pad some of his reporting, especially on the early stages of the truffle’s supply chain, with tedious descriptions of offices or the act of a farmer retrieving a truffle from a pig’s mouth. But once he moves on to the truffle traders, his writing comes alive. While I was surprised he neglected to investigate Italy’s tourist-fleecing International Alba White Truffle Fair, he certainly delivers on the retail market’s rascally middlemen and -women, and the degree to which they compromise their integrity in what is ultimately a self-regulating industry ... Mr. Jacobs demonstrates his reporting strength in his detailed exploration of truffle cons and the detective work that has uncovered some of them ... if you’d like to be a more successful truffle consumer, this is the book for you. But even if truffles are beyond your pay grade, there is plenty of enjoyment to be had in the sheer devilment portrayed in this informative and appetizing book.
acobs does a remarkable job reporting from the front lines of the truffle industry, bringing to vivid life French black-truffle farmers, Italian white-truffle foragers, and their marvelously well-trained dogs ... Foodies will learn perhaps too much here—they might never again be able to simply relish a truffle, naive of its power to unleash mayhem and murder—but they’ll certainly enjoy doing so.
Jacobs looks behind the myth and the glamor of the fungus that makes gourmets swoon, and pulls back the curtain to unmask a tawdry world of theft, intrigue, and betrayal ... Jacobs’ writing is engaging, so if you’ve never eaten a truffle, you’ll want to have that experience. If you have, he will leave you wondering just how it made it onto your plate. He will also convince you to ban ersatz truffle products from your life ... This well-researched, well-written book is a thoroughly enjoyable read; there are footnotes. It is a shame that its publisher didn’t spend more money on this book, it deserved a better quality production.