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Truffle Oil

Truffle Oil; the Ubiquitous Imposter

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Truffle Oil; the Ubiquitous Imposter

saghas | Jan 27, 2011 10:35 AM

I was heartened to read in a Wall St. Journal profile that Jean-Georges Vongerichten finds truffle oil to be the most over rated cooking ingredient and he likened its effect to gasoline. Over the past few years, this noxious substance has shown up in every possible dish in restaurants around the country. This ubiquitous poison overpowers everything it touches. I have had it on lettuce, in beet salad, with smoked salmon, roast beef, and on fish! Contrary to popular belief, most of the truffle oil in use has nothing to do with the magic of black or white truffles but is a synthetic concoction of 2-4 dithiapentane. Its increasing popularity would seem to be very much against several other trends in cooking and gastronomy such as organic food, the locavore movement, and slow cooking. While the delicate taste of real truffles can enhance a variety of foods, particularly eggs, simple pastas, and lobster, and is a true luxury if one can afford it, the stench of truffle oil fills the nose and monopolizes the palate. Chefs who would not dream of sprinkling raw garlic on their food toss truffle oil about with abandon. Has the palate of the consumer become so jaded that it now requires the gustatory equivalent of a nuclear explosion to achieve a modicum of satisfaction? I am wondering when the era of truffle oil will finally end and if anyone else feels the same way I do.

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