Umbria is an immense truffle-seller. It produces various types of truffle: the valued black, the summer scorzone and the highly perfumed white. The black Umbrian truffle of Norcia and Spoleto (Tuber Melanosporum Vittadini) is the prevailing quality. It matures from November to March and has the quality - different from other types - of magnifying its flavour when cooked. The white truffle is still more valuable and rare.
The scientific name is Tuber Magnatum Pico: magnatum, because it is destined for the magnates, the grand lords of the table, those who do not talk about price. Pico because he was the first to describe the characteristics in 1788, he was a doctor from Turin who had that surname.
The production zone may be located in the high Valle del Tevere, in the Eugubino Gualdese and in Orvietano; it matures from October until the end of January. Around the production of truffles turns a good part of the regional cooking and of the Umbrian economy. About 80% of all the national product is worked, packaged and commercialised in Umbria and more precisely within a geographical triangle boundary, with its base, from the course of the river Nera to the corners of the cities of Terni, Spoleto and Norcia.
Umbria sanctions this product with a series of exhibitions, sources of wealth and fame.
Mentioning only the principle occasions in which the truffle is the absolute protagonist, there is the market exhibition of Valtopina which is held at the end of November.
The golden truffle, the gastronomic competition which is held at Gubbia between the end of October and the month of November.
The humorous prize of Cittą di Castello which has the truffle as its subject, an exhibition of curiosity which is held during the first days of November like the Exhibition of Truffles which is held in the historical centre and - also accommodating other products from the woods - tends to concentrate on the white truffle.
The exhibitions of truffles are held, always in the month of November, also at Fabro, but certainly the most famous is that which is held in Norcia in the principle square of the city on the last Sunday of February even if the truffle is the protagonist in the middle of other products typical of Valnerina, for example salami, cheeses and smoked trout.
Between the infinite number of dishes of Umbrian cooking in which the truffle is the principle ingredient, it is pleasant to remember the tortino di tartufo, a simple, economical and modest dish which the adding of truffles makes into something very special and original. When the tortino (or omelette) is turned over there is sprinkled abundant flakes of truffle which is left for some seconds (not more) over the flame and covered by a lid. To eat like a king...