Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Truffles Motovun Istria Croatia

Dear Art lover,

     Motovun is the small town on top of a hill in northwestern Istria in Croatia where Boris took me on our day trip last Friday.  It is a cute little stone town.  There were actually a few people we saw about.  I was surprised at how deserted were all of the towns we visited that day.  Motovun had some construction workers ripping up one of the narrow streets to work on the pipes below ground, but other than that, very few signs of working life.

Tree Mural in Motovun Istria Croatia

     On the drive back to Umag, Boris explained to me that Motovun is Istria’s truffle capitol.  And then he explained that they use dogs to sniff out the truffles.  He said that it was a bit horrible because they raise the dogs by giving them only small amounts of truffle from birth to train their noses and appetites.  Then when they are starving, they send them out into the woods to find the delicacy. 

     I had always assumed that truffles were found by [knowledgeable and licensed] people in the woods in Italy, as mushrooms are.  It had never occurred to me that they were hunted with the use of dogs!  But then, I did not really know that truffles were underground and people could not find them without aid.  And, I wondered how a dog could live on slivers of truffle alone and also if it was really worth it to feed animals this relatively expensive stuff.  I mean, did they find more than their body weight’s needs?  Are truffles even nutritious enough to sustain a life?

     I am glad that I asked my friend Judy Witts Francini.  She knows everything about food, certainly Italian food.  And even if I am exaggerating in my praise, she certainly knows how to find out about something if she does not know it. 

   Judy rightly surmised that English is not Boris’s first language.  As such, her theory is that Boris used the word “starving” when he meant “hungry.”  She then explained that, in Italy at least, “When the dogs are born, the owners put truffle oil on the mother's nipples so when the puppies feed they relate eating to truffles.  When they get bigger the people put a little truffle in a small ball and throw it and have the dog find it or put small bits in food to reward the dogs.”

     “So early in the morning, before the dogs have eaten anything ["starving?"], they go hunting.  When they find a truffle they are given snacks.”

     THIS makes more sense.  Plus, I had asked Boris what the dogs ate when truffles were not in season and he replied, “regular food.”  No doubt I was “lost in translation.”  Always good to give the benefit of a doubt (sometimes even with speakers of our own native tongues).

     Here is a post that Judy created on truffles.  She shares images of truffles and a truffle dog!

     Judy offers cooking classes, recipes, and shopping experiences.  She knows all the best in the food business in Italy and she knows how to give you a great experience.  I know because I was lucky enough to join one of her market tours in Florence.  And here is a taste (pardon the pun) of her 2015 culinary events:

     Now, back to me.  Hahahaha… Yesterday I added two new rewards on my first Kickstarter art project.  I want to entice you to help me create some bronze art.  Please participate and share this link:

Kickstarter $650 reward create bronze medallion commission consult art
$650 Reward:  Consult with me to create your own medallion
Thank you so much,
~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

Passing vineyars as we approach Motovun Istria Croatia by car

Motovun Croatia - Lovely City of Stone Istria
Motovun Truffle Capitol Croatia - Lovely City of Stone Istria
Motovun Truffle Capitol Croatia - Lovely City of Stone

Motovun Truffle Capitol Croatia - Nice View from town wall
Boris did not know the original use of this site; now important for bonfire during local festival

Motovun Truffle Capitol Croatia - Cemetery view from town wall Istria

Motovun Truffle Capitol Croatia - Nice View from town wall Istria
Motovun Truffle Capitol Croatia - Nice View from town wall Istria

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