Why Truffles Are So Popular Now

Pigs sniffing through the damp woods and scrounging up a couple of fungi to grace the plates of the uber-rich might be what comes to mind when thinking of truffles. Not as much a topping for fries at a local bar. However, the delicacy has seen a resurgence in popularity, this time for people dining at all price points. Making the leap from food fit for kings to infused into everyday dishes has helped repopularize truffles (via The Guardian).

According to itsFoodtastic, the black or white truffles go for such a high price point because they're incredibly difficult to find. In fact, the outlet states that white truffles are actually in the same price area as gold. Truffles grow underground on the roots of only certain trees, and they don't just pop up overnight. Truffles can take up to 20 years to sprout. However, once picked, they don't have a long shelf life. They might take decades to sprout but only last for five days once harvested. With all of these obstacles, the popularity of truffle products can be easy to see, but with today's economy, difficult to understand.

You're not actually eating truffles

According to TheTakeout, truffles have hit the mainstream in a  big way, even though the price of truffles back in 2021 was not cheap. At $4,500 – $5,000 per pound of truffles wholesale, the incredibly high price point flies in the face of accessibility, limiting the number of products true truffles can be found in these days. A popular way for many restaurants to list truffles on the menu is to infuse a "truffle" flavor into dishes by using truffle oil. 

Unless dining in a Michelin-star restaurant, the truffle items you're most likely getting include rice and flour with some chemical additives. A popular alternative to truffles, truffle oil has a surprising ingredient that may deter you from using it. And while they are often flavored with chemicals like bis(methylthio)methane, truffle oils might technically contain a bit of actual truffle but aren't adding much in way of the flavor of the oil (via TheTakeout). 

Although a more affordable option than actual truffles, there are plenty of big-name detractors like Gordon Ramsay and Alton Brown who are all not fans of the oil. Ease of access to "truffle-like" products means a boom in truffle-centered items on menus, but whether the french fries you're getting at your neighborhood restaurant contain actual truffles is dubious.