Thursday, July 30, 2015


I am on a diet.

And, as anyone who's been on a diet knows, the moment you stop eating carbs, fat and salt,  the more your mind tortures you.  You start craving for a food your diet does not allow. I call it the torture food. Last week, my torture food was lechon, spit-roasted pig.

And lucky me, on my designated cheat day (that glorious day when you can eat whatever you like), I was invited to a dinner party that served lechon. And it wasn't just any ordinary spit-roasted pig, it was Truffle Lechon.
Image courtesy of Lechon Degustacion at Pepita's Kitchen
The lechon was stuffed with rice infused with truffle oil. Slivers of Shiitake mushroom were mixed in to add texture and another  layer of flavor to the rice.
Elle Esse Truffle oil

Now, let's talk truffle. 
Don't saw "Eww!" This  fungus is called "The Diamond of the Kitchen"
Truffles are  ectomycorrhizal subterranean Ascomyctete fungi of the tuber species which is dispersed via fungivores.  Now, don't be frazzled by the zoology gobbledygook. It just means it's a sac-like mushroom that grows underground among the roots of trees and its spores are spread about by animals that eat and shit it back to the ground.

That animal is usually a female pig.
A Truffle Hog is a natural at truffle-seeking, because it is attracted to the smell of truffle which is similar to androstenol,  the sex pheromone found in boar saliva.

Let me have some sexy time with that truffle.

Because of its pungent aroma and strong syrupy sweet flavor, the truffle has been used since the Third Dynasty of Ur (20th century BCE). But it wasn't until the 17th Century that the truffle had a renaissance when they were served at the court of  King Francis I of France.

So, is truffle oil made from truffles?   

No. According to a 2007 Bon Apetit article, "Truffle oil is a cooking oil, such as olive or sunflower oil, that has been infused with the aroma of white or black truffles. The intense aroma and flavor of truffle oil doesn’t come from actual truffles but a chemical compound that resembles it closely, often marked on the bottle label as “natural flavors.”  

The chemical compound is thioether, which has a sulfur atom responsible for its pungent odor. Quite like the aroma of truffles. Which is why it's used in truffle oil. 

The recent popularity of truffle oil is attributed to its more accessible price range (compared to a real truffle). Celebrated modern chefs disdain the use of synthetic truffle oil. 

In the second season of "The Taste," Anthony Bourdain was quoted as saying ""Let it be stated here, unto forever and eternity, [synthetic] truffle oil is not food."
F*ck You, truffle oil!
Martha Stewart, when asked on Reddit about synthetic truffle oil, had this to say, "I think truffle oil is one of the few ingredients that doesn't belong in anyone's kitchen. It is ruinous of most recipes.
Like insider trading, truffle oil can ruin you.

In an interview with the Huffington post, Joe Bastianchi of "The Masterchef" franchise blames commerce for the prevalence of truffle oil. 

Sorry guys but the lechon begs to differ.

Pepita's kitchen:
Address: Magallanes Ave, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone: +63 2 425 4605