Truffles from the Zagreb area

Unattractive in their looks, but irresistible in their aroma and taste, these subterranean fungi are one of the most expensive and most precious ingredients in the world. Their special status is owed to their specific aroma and the fact that they are almost impossible to commercially cultivate. Rather than that, people with trained dogs have to find them and dig them out. Truffles from Italy and France have fascinated gastronomy first, but truffles from Istria have ascended the throne with their quality and reputation. A story that truffles are extremely rare and limited to only some God-given areas has been created. But is that really so?

With time, truffles have started appearing in places where nobody expected them, let alone searched for them. Suddenly, there appeared bold claims that the central part of Croatia may even be more abundant with truffles than Istria. Truffles need forests because they live in symbiosis with forest trees, and they are especially fond of oak. Some areas near Zagreb, and especially Turopolje, have always abounded with forests and oak. Little by little, a real treasure has been discovered—sixteen species of truffles previously unheard of in the world. Today, they are exhibited in the Mushroom museum on the main square of Zagreb. Recently, Žumberak has been noted as a source of black truffle, which has already had its debut in some restaurants in Zagreb.

Suddenly it became clear that the area surrounding Zagreb has a serious potential for competing with other areas known for their truffles. But it takes time and effort for this niche, exclusive field of mushroom growing to catch on, and for people to take it seriously. With many already explored and probably numerous undiscovered natural sources, the opportunity for truffle revolution next to a metropolis lies in the possibilities of mycorrhizal plantation. Truffles that are available year-round can find their way onto local menus and inspire chefs to pair them with renown traditional meals, or to experiment with new formulas. Who knows, maybe one day it will be completely normal for us to brag about the truffle heritage and to proudly treat our guests to homegrown varieties.

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