The Truffle Underground: A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World's Most Expensive Fungus

The Truffle Underground: A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World's Most Expensive Fungus

Beneath the gloss of star chefs and crystal-laden tables, the truffle supply chain is touched by theft, secrecy, sabotage, and fraud. Farmers patrol their fields with rifles and fear losing trade secrets to spies. Hunters plant poisoned meatballs to eliminate rival truffle-hunting dogs. Naive buyers and even knowledgeable experts are duped by liars and counterfeits. This e...

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Title:The Truffle Underground: A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World's Most Expensive Fungus
Author:Ryan Jacobs
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Truffle Underground: A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World's Most Expensive Fungus Reviews

  • Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it.

    A thrilling journey through the hidden underworld of the world's most prized luxury ingredient.

    Beneath the gloss of star chefs and crystal-laden tables, the truffle supply chain is touched by theft, secrecy, sabotage, and fraud. Farmers patrol their fields with rifles and fear losing trade

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it.

    A thrilling journey through the hidden underworld of the world's most prized luxury ingredient.

    Beneath the gloss of star chefs and crystal-laden tables, the truffle supply chain is touched by theft, secrecy, sabotage, and fraud. Farmers patrol their fields with rifles and fear losing trade secrets to spies. Hunters plant poisoned meatballs to eliminate rival truffle-hunting dogs. Naive buyers and even knowledgeable experts are duped by liars and counterfeits.

    Deeply reported and elegantly written, this page-turning exposé documents the dark, sometimes deadly crimes at each level of the truffle’s path from ground to a plate, making sense of an industry that traffics in scarcity, seduction, and cash. Through it all, a question lingers: What, other than money, draws people to these dirt-covered knobs?

    I am a total food addict but truffles do not float my boat: I prefer a good cremini mushroom, truth be told. (Chocolate truffles are a whole other story!!!!!) The book was fascinating and I learned a lot about truffles and how they are harvested and distributed/sold. Truffles are a weird subject to read about (being honest) but I really enjoyed the book and I think any foodie would as well.

    As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of Instagram and Twitter) so let's give it 🍄🍄🍄🍄🍄

  • Megon

    This book was great, and it may have ruined me. It was very well written and gave plenty of juicy tidbits and insight into an industry that I never thought much about. It was entertaining and educational at the same time. I loved the history as well as the crime. If I could have wished for anything it would be for there to be more of it, and maybe some better advice about getting the real thing. I've never had a fresh truffle, but I enjoyed my truffle salt until I found out it was probably fake.

  • Stephanie

    The book’s subtitle – A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World’s Most Expensive Fungus – gives you a pretty good idea of what’s to come. It really isn’t an exaggeration – I always knew that truffles were an expensive luxury and that they were difficult to harvest, but I never realized how insanely competitive the truffle market really is.

    This incredibly well-researched and well-written exposé delves into the dark side of the truffle business – a world where

    The book’s subtitle – A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World’s Most Expensive Fungus – gives you a pretty good idea of what’s to come. It really isn’t an exaggeration – I always knew that truffles were an expensive luxury and that they were difficult to harvest, but I never realized how insanely competitive the truffle market really is.

    This incredibly well-researched and well-written exposé delves into the dark side of the truffle business – a world where the truffle supply is filled with secrets, sabotage, fraud, thefts and more. Many will be surprised to learn how antiquated the truffle business is, considering how expensive and sought-after the delicacy is. The harvest of a “great” truffle is based more on the whims of nature, a bit of luck, and old-fashioned know-how, than on anything science can predict.

    Jacobs does a great job of profiling all the steps it takes to bring a truffle from the dirt in the ground to the most expensive tables in the best restaurants in the world. The journey is intriguing and the characters are straight out of crime novels.

    Some of the tales that this book tells read like a murder-mystery fiction more than a culinary non-fiction book. I mean, seriously – planting poisoned meatballs in the hopes of eliminating a rival’s truffle-hunting dog? Could anyone even make this stuff up?

    But it’s all true. The truffle business is BRUTAL and incredibly flawed and Jacobs does a masterful job of bringing it all to life. I know that not everyone enjoys single-subject culinary histories like I do. I devour them (pun intended). Some, I admit, can be pretty boring, while others are surprisingly entertaining. Luckily for me, The Truffle Underground falls into the latter category. Jacobs is an investigative reporter and it really shows in the research evident in the book. However, what makes this book stand out among many other similar nonfiction books is that amongst all the facts and quotes and interviews, there’s an incredible story going on and Jacobs skillfully weaves that into his hard-boiled facts.

    Food lovers will really enjoy this look into the world behind the truffle (although they may not be too happy to hear that their truffle salts and truffle oils are most likely fake). For those that are less food obsessed, this book is interesting and engaging enough that many will still find lots to enjoy.

    *** Thank you to the publisher, Crown Publishing/Clarkson Potter, and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

  • Sandra Fallico

    Awesome book.....well organized, well written, loved the science, the mystery , the characters.....appreciated the education and the flow from start to finish. I was initially dubious as to what there could possibly be to write about truffles but ultimately found it fascinating and could not put it down.....

    Recommend it for a fun educational attention grabbing read. And of course, a must read for foodies, which I am not;)

  • Onceinabluemoon

    4.5. I know nothing off truffles, never even tasted one, but after this book it's time I remedy the situation! Learned loads, like best avoid the oils as they are just faux chemicals and even if you think you are trying an authentic Italian truffle, imposters abound. It's an entire culture I knew nothing about, but it's cutthroat and heartbreaking, from murder to the killing and theft of too many dogs to count. Love reading, it exposes you to things you didn't even know you needed to know! And n

    4.5. I know nothing off truffles, never even tasted one, but after this book it's time I remedy the situation! Learned loads, like best avoid the oils as they are just faux chemicals and even if you think you are trying an authentic Italian truffle, imposters abound. It's an entire culture I knew nothing about, but it's cutthroat and heartbreaking, from murder to the killing and theft of too many dogs to count. Love reading, it exposes you to things you didn't even know you needed to know! And now taste ...

  • Randal White

    Who knew????

    Who knew that a simple fungus could lead to assaults, the murder of dogs, robberies, fraud, and more! A mushroom, highly sought after by chefs all over the world, causes untold damages to people all over Italy and France.

    In fairness, growing up in Wisconsin, morel mushrooms were the "truffle" of our time. People guarded morel "honey holes" with a great deal of secrecy. But I never heard of anything like the extreme behaviors the author documents.

    From the simplest farmer, to multi-n

    Who knew????

    Who knew that a simple fungus could lead to assaults, the murder of dogs, robberies, fraud, and more! A mushroom, highly sought after by chefs all over the world, causes untold damages to people all over Italy and France.

    In fairness, growing up in Wisconsin, morel mushrooms were the "truffle" of our time. People guarded morel "honey holes" with a great deal of secrecy. But I never heard of anything like the extreme behaviors the author documents.

    From the simplest farmer, to multi-national corporations, everyone involved in the pursuit of truffles seems to go a bit wacky. Granted, there's a good deal of money to be made, but what in the world gets into people?

    The author has written an intriguing look into the truffle world. I found myself just shaking my head at some of the antics he describes. It's really too bad. While I think truffles are okay, I also think that they are highly overrated. Just another status symbol for people to hold over each other's heads, like who has the biggest and best boat, car, or the rarest wine.

  • Patricia

    I wonder how many people have never tasted a true truffle after reading this book. First of all, much to my chagrin I have never tasted a truffle which makes it very hard to understand their appeal. The truffle industry is filled with crime and people who do not speak the truth. This is an interesting book which I think will appeal to many people.

  • Idarah

    Review can be found here:

  • Jeanette

    This is something that I thought I would enjoy much more than I did.

    After the 1/2 way point I speed read and skimmed portions. But some of the last parts I read slowly.

    Others have said it better. But honestly as much as all this information filled in gaps for my knowledge of truffles and their uses and marketing, it also turned me off in huge proportions. Especially within the detached and clinical long passages of all the dog harm and sabotage done to the rivals' truffle dogs. Most say true cri

    This is something that I thought I would enjoy much more than I did.

    After the 1/2 way point I speed read and skimmed portions. But some of the last parts I read slowly.

    Others have said it better. But honestly as much as all this information filled in gaps for my knowledge of truffles and their uses and marketing, it also turned me off in huge proportions. Especially within the detached and clinical long passages of all the dog harm and sabotage done to the rivals' truffle dogs. Most say true crime reads are too sickening for them. There were points in this one that were similar but also at the same time more technically exact. UGH!

    Also all the name dropping leaves me cold. I'm odd. It just does. I don't seem to want to know who or what connotation of think reign within this kind of absolutest dark negativity to delightful and usually joyful portions of life, like food- for some of these truffle lovers. Bourdain's quote- way beyond dark! EGH! And what Oprah or Jimmy Kimmel require and sustain for the processes of getting the "correct" one to them? All of the celeb related almost seemed repulsive to me. Elite and nonsense both. And horrors, it can never be mixed with the Chinese node of similar nature!

    It's all so effete. I don't think I can even connect to the vast tradition and structure of those who practice centuries of habit and process in the oak sustaining and search. Hope they get to continue without crime and assault against them, regardless- but this adoration and ambiance of adoration- it left me rather cold.

    Thorough research, good writing, tons of source material listed and eye witness stats. That was 5 star.

  • Carol

    Give me a well written True Crime book any day. It doesn't have to be about a serial killer but don't let an innocuous sounding subject fool you that no harm to life or limb has occurred.

    , Ryan Jacobs, delivers all that I crave in the genre. Theft, secrecy, fraud, intrigue, and unlike one where the serial killer is at center, this one left me salivating for a taste of t

    Give me a well written True Crime book any day. It doesn't have to be about a serial killer but don't let an innocuous sounding subject fool you that no harm to life or limb has occurred.

    , Ryan Jacobs, delivers all that I crave in the genre. Theft, secrecy, fraud, intrigue, and unlike one where the serial killer is at center, this one left me salivating for a taste of the prize. There are deaths however, to both human and animals, frequently to those protecting the fungus or to the dog breeds that hunt the underground gold.

    Similar to how the FBI investigates many crimes, the Italian NAS and other organizations takes the investigation of food fraud seriously. Thousands of officers work to keep impostor food off our shelves and out of our stomachs. The criminals they hunt are often connected to organized crime and are dangerous. It's hard to believe that something as innocent as a mushroom can be compared to the illicit world of cocaine and heroin.

    You can't make this stuff up. Well worth the read, both informative and entertaining. I've never had a truffle, white or black nor a by-product of this earthy gem. I didn't realized all the products there are that flaunt its taste. Flours, sauces, butter, salt, oils, cheese and more. Even McDonald's thought about joining the truffle band wagon, experimenting with a truffle mayo. Perhaps it's time I indulged.

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