At $1,000 or more per pound, black truffles are one of the world’s most expensive foods. Found mainly in the woods on the border of France and Switzerland, truffle hunters follow the sensitive noses of trained pigs, called truffle hogs, to lead them to the buried treasure buried about a foot deep.
Female pigs are used because of their natural attraction to a compound in the truffle that is similar to the pheromone of boar saliva. But since pigs can easily gobble up the delicacy, some hunters prefer using specially trained dogs. Poodles are the favorite truffle dogs.
Truffles do not reproduce and while they can be cultivated the best quality, most sought-after truffles are found in the wild. Fungi use the carbohydrates and other nutrients in the roots of truffle trees to produce the roundish brown truffle.
Hunted in December and January, truffles are rushed to the big truffle markets in Richerenches and Lalbenque, France from where they are rushed to the most expensive restaurants in the world. Truffles are also sold canned or bottled, and are usually served lightly grated over other food.