In search of the truffle: a documentary smells of dying Italian art

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Alba’s white truffle, a coveted ingredient for up to US $ 4,000 (RM16,555) a pound in the gourmet market, is a treasure found only by a dying breed of hunters and their dogs in the forests of the Piedmont, Italy.

Finding the fungus, which loses its precious aroma within a week, is the livelihood of a small group of 80-90 years captured in documentary The truffle hunters, released in theaters on March 12.

“It’s a really unique kind of fairytale community that doesn’t seem like a part of this modern world in many ways,” said Michael Dweck, co-director of the film.

In shots that resemble paintings by Italian masters, truffle hunters roam the forests with their dogs, who are trained for four years to dig for culinary gold among the roots of tall oak trees.

Truffles, which look like small rocks, are tested and marketed between buyers and sellers in an industry expected to reach nearly $ 6 billion (RM24.8 billion) annually in the world over the next two decades. . Farmers have tried to cultivate them, with limited success.

Truffles, which look like small rocks, are estimated to reach nearly US $ 6 billion (RM 24.8 billion) annually over the next two decades.

The film was born out of separate visits to Piedmont by Dweck and co-director Gregory Kershaw, who fell in love with its beauty.

When they heard about the historic industry, they retreated to the locals before touring for three years.

“What was so remarkable to us was how rich their lives were, how much joy they had and it seemed like they had retained this wisdom of having a relationship with nature,” Kershaw said.

While the locals speak Italian, they prefer the Piedmontese dialect, which some say is a separate language.

“It’s not just words, it contains the culture, it contains the history of the region,” Kershaw said. “There is a kind of fighting spirit in the language built into it and so when they started speaking in that language another part of them emerged.”

Filmmakers would often set up a camera with the subjects in the shot and leave it on for hours, allowing the story to unfold.

“Each of them looked a lot like a Renaissance painting,” Dweck said. “This place enchanted us and we wanted to spend as much time as possible, then once we realized that there was such mystery and charm in this world, we decided to film it.” – Reuters

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