Gold rush to Gotland.
Earlier, it was the real thing; California in 1848–49, followed by others in the U.S., then Australia (1851–53), South Africa (1884), and Canada (Klondike, 1897–98), now it's time for Gotland, the Swedish island in the Baltic and the gold well, it's black.
Truffles – the black gold
The hunt for the black gold is getting more and more intense. Yet, fifteen years ago hardly anybody knew about the truffle that grows on both Öland and Gotland. Now, there are people who try to cultivate it. The black gold is expensive, 10,000 SEK a kilo (roughly $1,499 for 2.2 lbs).
“We’ve hired special dogs to sniff out the truffle, and we’ve found several spots where the attractive so-called Bourgogne truffle grows,” says botanist Christina Wedén. The tourist trade has been quick to see the truffle as a bait not just to get visitors to come and eat it, but to get them to come and hunt for it as well.
“Gotland has warm and nice falls and then it’s enjoyable to be out among oaks and hazelbushes with the truffle dogs, hunting for the fungus to enhance the evening’s dinner,” continues Wedén. But who can afford it? “Only ten grams per person is needed and paying a hundred SEK ($15) for an important ingredient is fairly reasonable.” The truffle is a fungus that develops underground. Almost all truffles are ectomycorrhizal and are therefore usually found in close association with trees.
There are hundreds of species of truffles, but the fruiting body of some (mostly in the genus 'Tuber') are highly prized as a food. The 18th-century French gastronome Brillat-Savarin called these truffles "the diamond of the kitchen". Edible truffles are held in high esteem in French, Spanish, northern Italian and Croatian cooking, as well as in international haute cuisine.
For more info on Gotland, see www.nordstjernan.com/news/nordic/2763/