Desert Truffles

During our three year stint in Damascus, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed a short period of time in the spring-- just after the desert rains-- when the Bedouins would come into town with sacks of white truffles; they were dirt cheap, as far as truffles go-- four dollars a kilo (and that was the price for a white guy who spoke rudimentary Arabic and was a notoriously bad haggler) and a recent episode of Planet Money: A Trunk Full of Truffles inspired me to do some research about these "desert truffles," which are called "kimmay" in Syria . . . they are not nearly as expensive as Italian truffles (which can cost up to $2200 per kilogram) but white and brown desert truffles do fetch much higher prices than we paid on the streets of Damascus . . . anywhere from $80 to $270 per kilogram; I should point out that truffles are not very dense, and so a kilogram of truffles is a LOT of truffles: we baked them like potatoes, sauteed them like onions, and sliced them thin and put them in salads . . . this is not how you're going to eat truffles in the States, as they are very expensive and the market for them is quite strange-- I highly recommend this episode of Planet Money, as you'll learn about truffle smuggling, truffle depreciation, and why people like the smell of old socks.

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