NOTE: We've moved this discussion from the thread at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9204... -- The Chowhound Team]
"high end ingredients used to create homey and comforting dishes (eg. summer truffle gohan)."
Porthos -- just as a technical side point to your very thoughtful posts here: "summer truffles" (Tuber aestivum) are not actually a very high-end, high-priced ingredient; for most of modern history they were considered a junk truffle, because they lacked most of the aroma and flavor that made classic truffle types so famous. I've seen them at prices overlapping the common wild mushrooms. As with a related situation I cited in the Champagne/Caviar bar thread, the classic aromatic truffle types have gone, in my adult lifetime and cooking experience, from very to unbelievably expensive and in response, restaurants have dipped into the common but "lesser" underground fungi species as substitutes, sometimes trading on the cachet that the more traditional truffle types earned in recent centuries. Some European purveyors even pass off the T. aestivum as their luxurious cousins in prepared condiments, with prices to match. Sorry to belabor this, but a younger generation of diners is now getting a distorted impression of what all that longstanding truffle hype in the literature was about.
Kind of like when Americans new to wine, a few decades ago, found US products generically labeled "Burgundy" or "Chablis," and formed their impressions of Burgundian wines from those pale imitators.