In modern days, many of us light up when we see a truffle item on the menu. Seeing our favorite brand of infused oil go on sale is a triumph. But you might be surprised to know that the subterranean fungus inspired the same ecstasy in our ancient ancestors.
The first truffles to be eaten were believed to have been enjoyed by Sumerians, who existed in southern Mesopotamia between 4100 to 1750 B.C.. They are the first documented civilization to have been enraptured by the intoxicating scent and taste. But these irresistible tubers have existed on Earth for even longer than that. In fact, they’ve graced our planet for millions of years. In addition to delighting palates over the centuries, the truffle has been the subject of myth and legend that suggest they are of divine origin.
Now they serve as an indulgence that is even accessible at your local supermarket. Yet, they still provoke mystery. “Wheat has been planted for more than 4,000 years, but the truffle only 50 years ago. We still have a long way to go to understand the truffle and its development,” Faustino Terradas of Trufas del Nuevo Mundo told Smithsonian Magazine. Read on to learn more about history’s most alluring ingredient.