Connect with us


Buying truffles at Richerenches, France’s largest black truffle market



Much has been written about black truffle hunting in the French countryside, where Perigord truffles, or tuber melanosporum, thrive below oak and hazelnut trees.

But little is discussed about how these “black diamonds” are traded before they reach the hands of fine dining chefs around the world.

The interior of a black truffle is lined with white veins which darken with age.

Courtesy of Plantin

If the very thought conjures up images of tightly organized auctions — the likes of bluefin tuna in Japan’s Toyosu Market, for instance — a trip to the village of Richerenches with Christopher Poron proves otherwise.

Truffle hunts and trades

But first, how are truffles found?

These black diamonds in France are often found using dogs that are trained to locate the pungent fungi under the ground.

Poron is the president of Plantin, one of Europe’s largest traders of black truffles. The company supplies black diamonds to award-winning restaurants in Europe and Asia, including Odette in Singapore, named No. 18 on San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants List in 2019.

“Richerenches is the biggest market for trading black truffles in France,” said Poron, who added that the southeast of France — where Richerenches is located — has been the largest producer of truffles in France since the 1940s.

A golf-ball sized nugget weighs just one ounce but can easily retail for $60.

During a “good harvest,” more than a ton of truffles can be traded on a single Saturday morning, said Poron, though a normal harvest is estimated to be slightly more than half this amount.

Truffles vary by size, but to get an idea of the price, a golf-ball sized nugget weighs just one ounce but can easily retail for $60.

“In the past, most of the buying of truffles was done through brokers,” said Poron. “These brokers would mostly meet the truffle farmers in markets like Richerenches.”

France’s largest truffle market

Indeed, since the first truffle market took place at Richerenches in 1923, the medieval village has evolved to become the country’s biggest annual truffle market. Ten to 12 tons of truffles are traded here every year.

Held every Saturday morning from November to March, the annual truffle market is an organized mess of mom-and-pop sellers (the farmers) proffering their goods to professional buyers (brokerage houses and truffle houses like Plantin) as well as the general public.

Richerenches truffle market.

Courtesy of Plantin

The Richerenches market is held on two streets: the main street, which is lined with stands selling truffles and truffle products to consumers, and a second street reserved strictly for professional buyers.

Trading on the professional street takes place from parked cars and vans. Buyers open their trunks to indicate they are ready to buy, and sellers walk from car to car showing off their weekly harvest. Truffles are weighed and purchased directly at the car and placed in the buyers’ trunks for safekeeping.

An open car trunk signals that a buyer is ready to purchase truffles from local farmers.

Courtesy of Plantin

“The farmers come with their harvest. The price is set according to quality and what the buyer is ready to pay,” said Poron. “Once agreed, the farmers get paid mostly in cash.”

The truffle farmers

While Plantin has a history of buying from brokers and farmers, Poron confesses that 90% of the company’s purchases today are directly sourced from farmers.

A line forms at an open car trunk at the Richerenches truffle market.

Courtesy of Plantin

The French farmers who sell their black diamonds to Poron at the Richerenches market are mostly vineyard owners, not professional truffle farmers as in Spain or Australia, since revenue from planting grapes for winemaking in France is perceived to be “more certain” than that of truffles.

Truffles are fragile, and climate dictates the health of each harvest.

“Black truffles need rain and a milder weather that’s not too cold,” said Poron.

‘No such thing’ as discounts

Unlike commercial transactions — where bigger volumes tend to attract lower prices — economies of scale don’t exist in the truffle trade.

“There is no such thing as getting a better price if I buy all the truffles or more quantities from each farmer,” he said. “In our business, we have to take care of our customers — not just the chefs, but also the farmers. If we don’t, they will sell their harvests to someone else.”

Truffle weighing and payment is done at the car trunk.

Courtesy of Plantin

Plantin started planting black truffles in a 50-hectare truffle farm in another region of France several years ago. The farm is starting to bear fruit, but in minute quantities. With a harvest that averages 33 pounds a week so far this year, the truffle house can hardly be considered self-sufficient.

“We will never be able to depend solely on our own farm production because of the huge volumes we trade,” Poron said.

This is what makes the local farming community, and hence the Richerenches market, so important.

Thanks be to truffles

One of the most vaunted truffle events of the year — the “la messe de la truffe” or “the truffle mass” — is held in Richerenches on the third Sunday of every January. Held at the village church, the special mass is devoted to Saint Antoine, the patron saint of truffle farmers.

First held in 1952 by Richerenches priest Henri Michel-Reyne, the truffle mass was a way to restore the town’s church, which was in “bad shape,” said Poron.

Truffles on the alter in Richerenches.

Courtesy of Plantin

In 1982, a black truffle brotherhood — made up mostly of truffle brokers and farmers — was created. Every year since, the brotherhood, in full ceremonial garb, comes together to pray for a good harvest.

The annual truffle mass, where black truffles are donated to the local church.

Courtesy of Plantin

The highlight of the truffle mass is when the offering basket is passed around. Instead of cash, nuggets of black diamonds are donated and auctioned off in honor of the church.

Source link


Two Iranians die after testing positive for coronavirus



A worker at a factory in Nanjing sorting face masks being produced to satisfy increased demand during China’s COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, in China’s Jiangsu province.

Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

Two Iranians have died in hospital after testing positive for the new coronavirus in the holy Shi’ite city of Qom, the head of the city’s University of Medical Sciences told Mehr news agency on Wednesday.

“Two Iranians, who tested positive earlier today for new coronavirus, died of respiratory illness,” the official told Mehr.

Iran’s health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur confirmed their death on Twitter.

Iran confirmed earlier on Wednesday its first two cases of the virus, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, shortly after reports that preliminary tests on the two had come back positive.

The health ministry said earlier that the patients had been put in isolation.

Rabiei did not give the nationality of the two people infected, but some reports suggested that they were Iranian nationals.

The death toll from the new coronavirus in mainland China passed 2,000 on Wednesday although the number of new cases fell for a second straight day, as authorities tightened already severe containment measures in the worst-hit city of Wuhan.

Source link

Continue Reading


Burger King is removing artificial additives from the Whopper



Burger King announced Wednesday it is removing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from its signature Whopper sandwich in the United States.

The Restaurant Brands International chain plans to highlight the change with a global advertising campaign that shows a photo of a moldy Whopper, supposedly 28 days old, with text that reads “the beauty of no artificial preservatives.”

The campaign comes as consumers demand more transparency about the ingredients in their food. In 2018, McDonald’s removed artificial additives from seven classic burgers, a change that included tweaking its iconic Big Mac sauce. The Chicago-based company also rolled out fresh beef Quarter Pounders, a change that saw it regain burger market share.

More than 400 U.S. restaurants are already selling Whoppers without artificial additives. The chain expects all Whoppers sold in the U.S. to follow suit by the end of the year. Most European countries are already selling their Whoppers without the artificial additives.

Burger King said more than 90% of all food ingredients at U.S. restaurants do not contain artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. No food items contain MSG or high-fructose corn syrup, both of which are common additives in the fast-food industry.

Source link

Continue Reading


EU launches plan to regulate A.I. aimed at Silicon Valley giants



BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – FEBRUARY 19: Executive Vice President of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age Margrethe Vestager (L) and the EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton (R) are talking to media in the Berlaymont, the EU Commission headquarter on February 19, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium.

Thierry Monasse

BRUSSELS – The European Union is looking at ways to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) as it ramps up its oversight of large technology firms.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, opened a 12-week period of discussion on Wednesday aimed at better understanding how to protect EU citizens from what it describes as the negative impacts of A.I. More concrete legislation is then expected in the second half of this year, in what could become its next big point of contention with companies such as Facebook and Alphabet.

“We recognize that we missed the first wave, or the first battle, which was the battle of personal data,” Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for the internal market, told reporters in Brussels Wednesday. He said, however, that the “good news” is that the EU now understands that the next tussle will be over industrial data.

The EU is seen as a leader in corporate regulation, but European companies still struggle with competition from American and Chinese firms. The region’s data privacy rules, called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and were announced in 2018, serve as a benchmark for tougher regulation in other parts of the world, including in the United States.

Overall, the EU’s aim when it comes to A.I. is to assess what sort of technologies are a risk to fundamental human rights, including in areas such as health care and transport. These will be subject to tougher requirements.

One area that the Commission is particularly concerned about is facial recognition. At the moment, the processing of biometric data in order to identify people is illegal in most cases, under data privacy laws. However, the EU is now looking at whether there should be certain exceptions.

Speaking to journalists in Brussels, Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s head of competition policy, said: “Artificial intelligence is not good or bad in itself, it all depends on why and how it is used.”

In an exclusive interview with CNBC Tuesday, Vestager said that the EU is taking a “double-sided” approach where it will enable this technology, while also ensuring it’s not harmful to EU citizens.

Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers are watching and waiting to see what the EU decides on. “We encourage the EU to follow America’s lead and pursue an innovation friendly, values-based approach to A.I. regulation, one which avoids over-burdensome, one-size-fits-all policies,” Michael Kratsios, the U.S. chief technology officer told CNBC in emailed remarks.

He added that “the best way to counter authoritarian uses of A.I. is to ensure the U.S. and its allies remain leaders in innovation, advancing technology underpinned by our common values.”

Source link

Continue Reading