European white truffles can sell for as much as $3,600 a pound, making them and their fellow fungi the most expensive food in the world. One two-pound truffle recently sold for more than $300,000. All of which has brought organized crime into the truffle trade, creating a black market and leading to theft of both truffles as well as the highly valued truffle-sniffing dogs. Add to that the influx of the inferior Chinese truffles — masquerading as their European cousins — and you’ve got trouble with truffles. Lesley Stahl reports.
Just a couple of shavings of black truffles from France, known as black diamonds, can cost hundreds of dollars in a restaurant in Paris. White truffles from Italy can cost more than three times as much.
Truffles are a fancy, delicious delicacy — some say an aphrodisiac — and, as we first reported in January, they’re ounce for ounce the most expensive food in the world. If you go to France and Italy, as we did, you learn quickly that truffles are under siege because they’re becoming scarce. They’re being trafficked like drugs, stolen by thugs and threatened by inferior imports from China.