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Truffles - What am I missing? [Moved from Home Cooking board]

jamesm Sep 14, 2007 10:12 AM

Am I alone in finding the scent of truffles repugnant? I made mashed potatoes with truffle butter and everyone raved, but I was literally almost gagging. And I'm not sensitive to other food. I can eat pretty much anything. I tried again with an aioli with truffle oil this time, and again guests raved, I gagged. Is this odd?

  1. a
    adido Sep 14, 2007 10:37 AM

    You are not alone. A friend of mine and I have the same reaction to truffle oil. It smells like something died in a flooded basement to me. I have had sauces in the past with some flecks of truffle in it and have been okay with that. But I think people are starting to go overboard with the stuff. I know that somethings smell bad and taste good so I try it over and over and every time I have that same gut wrenching reaction. I have pretty much signed off on truffles.

    9 Replies
    1. re: adido
      fayehess Sep 14, 2007 11:19 AM

      Truffle oil and a truffle that was found that day and shaved as thin as paper onto pasta or into an egg or potato, or wherever, are two totally different things. It's possible that you just hate truffles, but I would give the super fresh a chance before you decide. fayefood.com

      1. re: fayehess
        jamesm Sep 14, 2007 11:32 AM

        If I come across a truffle I'll give it a go, but I have had fresh truffles at a restaurant with the same reaction. I made the aioli with truffle oil, and the potatoes with a very expensive truffle butter. Each time same reaction. Unfortunately I guess I'm a percentage of the population that is repulsed by truffles. I am very sensitive to odors, but typically not food odors. Household cleaning products, perfumes, cologne etc...perhaps there is a connection. I guess it's not a big deal, but the pleasure other people seem to get from them makes me slightly envious. After the potatoes one of my guests e-mailed me and told me that they dreamed about the meal, and my girlfriend called me about an hour ago and said she had been thinking about the aioli all day.

        1. re: jamesm
          MMRuth Sep 14, 2007 11:44 AM

          Would that I would "come across a truffle"! Actually, my husband and I have agreed that we're going to buy a white truffle this season. The only good thing about this is that if you don't like them, you'll save yourself a lot of money and/or wishful thinking!

          1. re: MMRuth
            jamesm Sep 14, 2007 11:49 AM

            That's a great way of looking at it. What other foods do people react to with the same drooling blissfulness that they do truffles? I'm trying to think of something on par, but am coming up short.

            1. re: jamesm
              MMRuth Sep 14, 2007 11:51 AM

              Caviar maybe?

              1. re: jamesm
                vorpal Sep 14, 2007 08:44 PM

                Foie gras?

                1. re: jamesm
                  linguafood Nov 15, 2007 11:22 AM

                  bacon? raw-milk cheeses? chocolate truffles?

                2. re: MMRuth
                  vvvindaloo Sep 14, 2007 09:08 PM

                  MM- Would you mind sharing some of your plans for this truffle with the rest of us dreamers? I can taste the white truffle potato gratin now. Or maybe in a nice creamy risotto with morels...

                  1. re: vvvindaloo
                    MMRuth Sep 19, 2007 03:55 AM

                    Probably shaved on risotto, to start. Then if there is some leftover, I'm thinking of an open faced sandwich with grilled bread, melted fontina cheese, and shaved truffles. I've been doing some research on selecting and storing them - now I have to figure out the best - though hopefully most reasonable - place to buy one!

          2. l
            laurendlewis Sep 14, 2007 11:09 AM

            I think the flavor of truffles themselves and truffle oil are different. Like lemon oil versus actual lemon or lemon juice versus the jarred stuff in the grocery store - whole other world.

            1. rworange Sep 14, 2007 11:12 AM

              People fall into three categories truffle-wise
              - they think they are amazing
              - they think they are repugnant, like you
              - they can't detect any flavor or aroma, like me

              I read it was genetic and two out of ten people can't detect any flavor/aroma. Don't know the percentage of people who are repulsed by them.

              2 Replies
              1. re: rworange
                jamesm Sep 14, 2007 11:17 AM

                Very interesting.

                1. re: rworange
                  Will Owen Sep 14, 2007 05:17 PM

                  We've all got our aroma sensors tuned differently - it's like there's an equalizer board in there with different settings for different frequencies. There is a class of perfume that absolutely repels me - I think it smells like a particularly pungent bug spray - while to Mrs. O it smells subtle and delightful. But if you dial back that same kind of fragrance, it smells like camphor tree buds when they've ripened and fallen, and I love the scent when I'm on a street lined with those...but Mrs. O can't smell them at all!

                  I'm still waiting my turn at truffle sniffing, though. I am holding out for the actual fungus, too, not the oil.

                2. icey Sep 14, 2007 12:21 PM

                  At first, I would gag every time a fresh black truffle was around, but I could handle it a bit better once it was warmed through by pasta etc. I tried it a few more times and now I am hooked....the smell no longer bothers me and in fact, I find it intoxicating in the best possible way; I absolutely LOVE it. I thought it was an acquired taste, just like cilantro (for me at least).

                  1. m
                    Mushroom Sep 14, 2007 04:24 PM

                    Thank you for posting this! I thought something was wrong with me. My sister brought me back some Salsa Tartufina (mushrooms & truffles) from Italy - when I opened the jar I thought it had gone rancid. But my husband thought it smelled delish - so I made a pasta sauce with it. I absolutely hated it - but he raved about it.

                    I made some for my mom and she loved it as well.

                    I shall take MMRuth's attitude and rejoice at the money I'll save AND hope, like icey , that I'll eventually get a taste for these "intoxicating" things. I use to find cilantro and horseradish disgusting and now love them both - so there is still hope.

                    1. m
                      ML8000 Sep 14, 2007 06:48 PM

                      There's obviously people who don't like truffles, gag on them or are just grossed out. That said, I think there's some things that might help. 1) it helps if your first experience is with real truffles, 2) it helps that someone who knows what they're doing cooks that first experience and 3) it depends on the quality of the truffles. Truffle oil is really just a "reminder" of truffles and it only tastes okay if you had real truffles before...or you just don't like them.

                      1. NYJewboy Sep 15, 2007 08:22 AM

                        If you had fresh truffles in Norcia Italy you might change your mind. Here we get a lot of bad truffle by-products.

                        1. tatamagouche Sep 17, 2007 09:21 AM

                          Tastebuds and their olfactory counterparts are funny things. I adore truffles, but no matter how hard I try I can't bring myself to accept chicken livers; everything about them turns my stomach. (Strangely, that's not the case with foie gras.) The aroma of cognac and particularly peaty scotch repel me as well.

                          I tend to feel as though it's a failing on my part, but what are you going to do? I try to take comfort in the fact that there are at least a few things in this world that won't contribute to my weight gain.

                          1. Eat_Nopal Sep 18, 2007 07:58 PM

                            The truffle oils I've had remind me of underwear that has been worn for a week (long story).... somewhat similar to a Fish Sauce. However, they are often misused by dumb chefs that will add it to anything (mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese, mezclun greens) without any concern for how they go together.

                            At fine restaurants... the truffle flavors have been less noticeable but presumably add to the whole of the dish. I haven't been impressed enough to experiment with more expensive versions at home.

                            As just about anything else... I am sure its much better in Italy!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Eat_Nopal
                              fayehess Sep 24, 2007 11:08 AM

                              I think that truffle oil no matter what country you are in is hogwash. Olive oil, in its finest (truthful extra virgin) form is a nectar from the gods. A truffle (for those who like them) is also delicious, but I don't believe in ruining both by keeping them bottled up together. (and "truffle oil" is usually just "essence" of truffle, whatever that means.)

                              1. re: fayehess
                                NYJewboy Nov 23, 2007 09:32 AM

                                Yes fayehess, I have heard this from people in Umbria quite often, but it is not universal there. I was proven wrong in Spoleto when a chef at Appolinare Restaurant made me a bruchette (sp?) with a homemade truffle oil served warm. It was unlike any bottled detritus sold under the moniker 'truffle oil'. But I know from what you speak, and almost always I agree.

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