All you wanted to know about truffle oil and were afraid to ask.
I just got hold of this article today, published 5/16/2007 in the NYT by Daniel Patterson.
A little old by cybertimes standards, but very instructive.
If I were a chef (which I am not) and I had been using truffle oil for years and had been happy with my results, wouldn't that be like a blind tasting? I am reminded of the story of the classicist who was crestfallen when he discovered the Odessy was not written by Homer but by another poet of the same name. Actually, I think the fact that synthetic truffle oil fools so many people is good news not bad.
Alas! 99.99% of the Truffle Oil found in the US is FAKE! Never been near a Truffle, white or black.
The difference is, IMO, the quality of the chemical, and the quality of the oil. Whether they price be $40 or $4 for a small bottle, it is still a synthetic. If the label says "Truffle Essence" or "Truffle Aroma" or something like that , it is synthetic.
I have been using the White and Black Truffle Oil from Oliviers & Co. It is reasonably priced, made with EVOO, and is quite delicious. It will just have to do until we win the Lottery or something.