The plan was to go and see a traditional truffiére in France hunt for truffles. I was aware that you can use pigs but they have a tendency to eat their discovery. The more common way is with dogs. Their sense of smell is well known but they do dig excitedly and can cause a lot of damage. However, in the medieval countryside of the Périgord region, there is a man using the ‘peasant’ way. A small thin beech stick, his own nose and some flies.

Francis tends to his small grove of trees throughout the year, watering them and trimming the leaves to ensure they are well kept. For it is the leaves that will fall to earth and provide the nutrients in the soil to be the cultivation incubator for this black gold.


For the past 12 years, Francis has planted, nurtured, watched and now yields his small holding of hazel and oak trees. Unassumingly French, his billowing hair and scarf barely contain the glint in his eyes. He stalks around the base of the trees until he sees a slight pattern in the soil. He kneels down and using the stick, gently rubs the ground. If he then sees small, black and yellow flies, he knows there is a prize to be won. He leans in, digging around beneath the surface with his finger. His motion stops, he smells it and then changes the probing direction. Arms widen and he leans in and sniffs the earth directly. Within seconds, he has removed a small pile of the earth and then, beaming, he sits on his haunches and shows me his reward. This small, muddy, knobbly lump is the fungi of black truffle. Currently selling for €1,000 per kg, this fragrant gnarly lump will soon grace the Michelin starred menu's in the surrounding villages. Bagging his prey, softly replacing the earth, he stands, proud of what he has done. And rightly so. In a time of gentrification, it is this centuries old, peasant way of sourcing food that affirms my want of eating sustainably and sourcing seasonally. We need more people like Francis in this world.